Tag: Donald Trump

Alabama governor signs bills supporting military

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed four bills Monday supporting veterans and the military. The governor signed House Bills 58, 83, 88 and 92. Earlier this month at Maxwell Air Force Base, the governor also signed into law House Bill 388, the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act.

“Throughout my career, I have advocated for our service men and women, and I will continue to do all I can as governor to offer my support to those who have given us so much,” Ivey said. “Alabamians are steadfast in their support for the military, and I am proud to strengthen Alabama’s bond with the military through these five bills I have signed into law.”

HB 58, known as the “Parks for Patriots Bill,” grants free admission to active or retired service members, who are Alabama residents, to state parks operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. An appropriate active or retired military identification card, a driver’s license with a military veteran designation, a valid Department of Defense Form or any other documentation prescribed by law or administrative rule must be shown to obtain free admission. In November 2017, Ivey announced that entry into Alabama’s State Parks was free for all veterans. At that time, Rep. Dickie Drake said he planned to file a bill in the 2018 Regular Session that would permanently codify Ivey’s Parks for Patriots plan into law.

“I am so proud to have sponsored a bill that allows veterans and current military to have free admission to Alabama State Parks,” Drake said. “With Memorial Day close at hand, this should be something nice for our Veterans and our military who have given so much and make so many sacrifices; we can never fully repay them.”

Ivey also signed HB 83, the Veterans Employment Act, and HB 88, which gives preference in competitive bids on state government contracts to businesses owned by veterans. Drake also sponsored HB 88. The Veterans Employment Act, sponsored by Rep. Connie Rowe, gives a tax credit to small businesses that hire unemployed veterans.

“This was an opportunity to help both our veterans and small businesses at the same time. Incentivizing the hiring and retention of our military veterans by Alabama small businesses allows us to acknowledge their service and provide them with more job opportunities,” Rowe said. “Small businesses will benefit, not only by qualifying for the tax incentive, but also by bringing employees into their businesses with the admirable traits and skills acquired during military training and service. It’s a win-win piece of legislation.”

HB 92, sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore, allows a person who meets the military service and award requirements to be issued a windshield placard displaying an appropriate military honor or veteran status. The placard will permit parking in designated military parking places. The bill makes it unlawful for a person to park in these designated military places without distinctive placard.

“In our great nation, we recognize that freedom is a right given by God, but we also know that right is protected by those who fight for it,” Ivey said. “I am grateful for the hard work and support of the Alabama Legislature for passing strong legislation supporting our service men and women.”

Earlier this month at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ivey signed into law HB 388, the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act. Through this bill, professional licensing boards are required to issue licenses and certificates to military spouses who hold licenses and certificates from other states. In the case a state has lesser requirements, the state will issue temporary licenses. Sen. Gerald Dial and Rep. Thad McClammy were the sponsors of this legislation.

US Attorney launches Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force

‘Here for as long as it takes,’ sheriff says

BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Attorney’s Office today launched the Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force to offer prevention and community outreach programs within the city. 

This task force will complement the law enforcement work of the Birmingham Public Safety Task Force, which was announced last month, in combined efforts to reduce violent crime in the Birmingham area, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.

The Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force will engage law enforcement, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporate citizens in a coordinated and collaborative process to ensure parity in prevention, enforcement, and re-entry efforts. Building and restoring relationships between communities and law enforcement is a primary function of the task force.

“This task force will endeavor to meaningfully engage citizens of Birmingham with regard to how we can improve the station of the entire city,” Town said. “It is no longer enough just to prosecute our worst offenders. Prevention and outreach programs that decrease criminal activity and increase opportunity must accompany our overall crime reduction initiative,” he said. “I appreciate the leadership of our mayor, our sheriff, and all of our task force members for their willingness to engage in this worthy challenge.”

Members of the Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force will collaborate to develop and conduct community programs aimed at education, community-police relations and building opportunities that will benefit the entire community.

“As stated before, we are here for as long as it takes,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. “I have no doubt this multifaceted initiative is going to have a very positive impact on crime in general, but most especially violent crime. Taking violent criminals out of these neighborhoods and locking them up for 15 or more years will return these neighborhoods back to the good folks and improve their quality of life dramatically. That is the goal. It will be met.”

Building and improving trust and communication between the community and members of law enforcement will be a critical function of the BSNTF, Town said. That will include encouraging patrol officers, deputies and agents to increase general and positive interactions in the community, whether that be helping to spruce up a community park or passing out free ice-cream coupons to neighborhood kids.

The two Birmingham task forces incorporate principles of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy, and the National Public Safety Partnership. PSN is a nationwide Justice Department program committed to reducing gun and gang crime by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and supporting those efforts with training and funding.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced PSP last year as a training and technical assistance program designed to enhance the capacity of local jurisdictions to address violent crime in their communities. He selected Birmingham as one of the initial 12 locations to participate in the program. The PSP and PSN programs both reinforce the federal, state and local task force model as one of the most effective ways to reduce violent crime.

Typical disturbances not in store

I wrote about this shopping center quite a few times. It was never about a new store opening, or a door-buster sale.

It was always about crimes and disturbances. 

There was the possible flash mob in the summer of 2011. There was the alleged shoplifter in 2013 who fled from loss prevention authorities and struck an elderly man with his vehicle. 

The last quarter of 2014 was full. In October, I wrote about two alleged purse-snatchers at this shopping center. Their M.O. was simple: One suspect would approach the women, loading purchased items into their vehicles, and he would say “Hello.” He would then snatch the purse and jump into a SUV that fled. 

The next month, I wrote about shoplifters who crashed into two police cars during their attempt to flee the scene. The driver was caught after the wreck, while the passenger ran but was later apprehended. A responding police officer broke a finger in that ordeal. Luckily, I had the opportunity to also write about the suspects’ arrests.

After I left the daily journalism world, I often read about this shopping center. There was a weekday bomb threat at its anchor store in 2015. The store was evacuated. A year later, there was another bomb threat. 

In December 2015, I read again about a shoplifter who fled, made it not even a mile, and wrecked into another vehicle. I read about police having to respond to a large group of loiterers on Christmas night in 2016. This January, I read about two people being arrested for disorderly conduct, and another person with a gun.

These stories make me uneasy. My mom shops there, as does my mother-in-law. Friends shop there. I’m thankful for police presence, but my Lord, it shouldn’t be that much of a necessity. 

Today I went to this shopping center to eat lunch with my brother. I have become accustomed to seeing the red and blue lights here, the suspicious people strutting between the cars in the dark. Not today. Today was different. As I made the right turn into the shopping center, I saw a handful of people holding large white signs. 

Great, I thought. I have seen photos and videos from the political protests across the nation. I was in Atlanta recently and observed about a hundred people marching in support of Obamacare. I assumed this would be something similar. We are conditioned to believe it is always a protest, these days.

I was dead wrong.

I’m not sure who they were, a family or members of some church group. But printed on their signs in red were “Stop For Prayer” and “Jesus Cares.”

I just hope those past stories, of fleeing thieves and hoax bomb threats, didn’t scare people away and keep them from seeing this today.