MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Violent crime in Alabama cities continues to rise in 2022, with Birmingham recently ranked third among large cities for its murder rate halfway through the year.
Last night, Birmingham Police responded to calls of multiple shootings in the city. As of Friday, the department reported 84 murders to date compared to 64 this time last year — a 31% increase for the city. Alabama officials are now speaking out on ways to improve conditions before things get more out of hand.
“It will be very dangerous to walk the streets if we don’t turn this trend around,” Jefferson County Representative Allen Treadaway said.
Treadaway is also the former assistant chief of the Birmingham Police Department. He says officer shortages have made enforcing laws difficult.
“Birmingham is approximately in the range of 200 plus or minus, give or take, officers down. You cannot enforce laws. You cannot do the things you need to do when you have shortages to that degree,” Treadaway said.
Treadaway says a greater focus on recruiting and retaining officers could go a long way toward helping the problem. He also says community support for law enforcement would help.
“We’ve got to find additional revenues, dollars and other ways to bring individuals into the profession and keep them, and that’s where more can be done,” Treadaway said.
Attorney General Steve Marshall says he agrees more needs to be done from the local level to improve recruitment and support for police. From a state level, he says he’s against recent efforts to reform the parole process.
“We need to continue to encourage the Board of Pardon and Parole to make sure that they’re making decisions that are based on public interest and public safety in deciding who ultimately is released out of our facilities of our department of corrections,” Marshall said.
Rep. Treadaway says he is working with lawmakers to draft legislation addressing crime and exhibition driving for this upcoming legislative session.
Marshall also says he’d like to see the legislature provide more tools for law enforcement — noting that last session they approved the use of wires for drug trafficking cases.
“What we don’t need them to do is lessen accountability and lessen culpability for those who commit crimes in Alabama,” Marshall said.
Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a statement on the state’s recent spike in crime, calling it “alarming.”
“Here in Alabama, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency stands ready to work side by side with local law enforcement to keep our folks safe,” the statement said. “Violence of any kind has no place in Alabama.”