Reform and Reimagine
Birmingham Public Safety
The Woodfin Administration public safety policy agenda has been developed with a deep appreciation of the health, cultural, economic, and political conditions of the moment. This public safety policy is a people-centric approach to improve public safety by: 1) investing in the people and communities that can have the greatest impact on public safety; 2) reforming current public safety operations; 3) creating new infrastructure for a reimagined public safety system; and 4) continuing to improve intergovernmental collaboration.
The Birmingham Public Safety Task Force is a five-person team appointed by Mayor Randall Woodfin composed of lawyers, former law enforcement and community leaders. The task force was given 90 days to provide a roadmap on how the City of Birmingham can improve public safety. With their recommendations, the City of Birmingham has developed public safety policy agenda to build a safe, healthy, and equitable future for Birmingham.
The primary policy issues for review included:
- Structure of BPD policies, procedures, and training keys
- Publication and Accessibility to BPD Rules & Regs
- Training (use of force, racial bias, mental health, etc.)
- Process for investigating officer-involved deaths
- Data collection and reporting (particularly around use of force and officer complaints)
- BPD Use of Force Policy
- BPD Complaint Procedure
- Civilian Oversight of BPD
- Qualified Immunity
- Body-worn cameras, dashboard cameras, use of surveillance technology and public access to data
- Community-Based Trauma-Informed investments and services in support of community safety
- Strategically focus City resources on to the highest risk and directly impacted members of the community.
- Be intentional and visible with transparency, accountability, and community-uniting efforts.
- Make it a policy to publicly publish Birmingham Police Department (BPD) policies.
- Engage the business community in public safety partnerships.
- Create and support viable alternative justice models that support prevention, diversion, and reentry.
- Create community-policing spaces acknowledging and studying past BPD & Alabama- specific injustices.
- Regularly provide facilitated forums for constituents and officers to dialogue about issues, policies, and other matters that will further community trust and improve public safety.
- Build a real-time volunteer bank of community members who want to give their time to assist the community.
- Establish a more transparent and community-inclusive oversight model.
- Beyond Breonna’s Law: Reform search warrant execution policies and training.
- Strengthen early intervention systems to track unlawful officer behavior.
- Adopt and Implement the Domestic and Sexual Violence reforms.
- Ban on facial recognition technology.
- Audit all Birmingham Police Department policies, operations, and administration no less than every two years. (not including changes in law).
- Public audit of all public safety and public health-related expenditures of the City.
- Redevelop data policies, data staffing, data analysis, and technology-adoption policies to consider: 1) efficacy; 2) scale; 3) civil liberties; and 4) measures of public safety beyond crime statistics.
- Reexamine qualifications and training standards (both fitness and education) for first responders to both be hired and promoted, starting with BPD.
- Integrate curriculum on the following topics into basic officer training:
- The history of policing and the history of policing in Birmingham
- Social interaction & tactical skills
- Addiction as a disease
- Elections and law enforcement
- Implicit bias and cultural responsiveness
- Increase basic legal education, particularly lawful search, seizure, and arrest statutes/protocol
- Integrate public education, such as PSAs, into community-policing strategy.
- Create a Continuum of Public Health to foster wellness for community members who might otherwise become entangled in the criminal justice system, starting with reentry and violence prevention.
- Expand the number of social workers, social scientists, mental health professionals on City staff, including BPD.
- Hire a medical director for Birmingham Fire and Rescue Services (BFRS) as a means of improving the quality of care BFRS can provide when responding to calls for medical assistance.
- Enhance Police Mental Wellness Guidelines.
- Expand strategic partnerships with intergovernmental agencies to expand capacity to address Birmingham-specific issues.