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:

  1. Structure of BPD policies, procedures, and training keys
  2. Publication and Accessibility to BPD Rules & Regs
  3. Training (use of force, racial bias, mental health, etc.)
  4. Process for investigating officer-involved deaths
  5. Data collection and reporting (particularly around use of force and officer complaints)
  6. BPD Use of Force Policy
  7. BPD Complaint Procedure
  8. Civilian Oversight of BPD
  9. Qualified Immunity
  10. Body-worn cameras, dashboard cameras, use of surveillance technology and public access to data
  11. Community-Based Trauma-Informed investments and services in support of community safety
Engagement
The Birmingham Public Safety Task Force believed that the community voice was vital in this process. The task force hosted listening sessions and a public hearing to hear input from the Birmingham community as well as received information from law enforcement and community surveys.

Process
and
Engagement
Survey
NUMBER OF TASK FORCE SESSIONS
30
Total Meetings
NUMBER OF LISTENING
 SESSIONS
11
Total Listening Sessions
LAW ENFORCEMENT SURVEY
127
Total Responses
YouGov SURVEY
49%
of Birmingham registered voters support a ban on "no-knock raids," except in extreme circumstances such as a hostage situation or in pursuit of a murderer.
64%
of Birmingham register voters support a national database on police use of force and police-involved shootings.
MAYOR’S PUBLIC SAFETY POLICY AGENDA
Pillars/Policy
Pillars
Policy
Community Empowerment
  • 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.
Policy & Oversight
  • 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.
Training & Education
  • 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.
Safety and Wellness
  • 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.

Public Safety Recommendations


BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC SAFETY TASK FORCE MEMBERS
Jaselle Houghtlin Jaselle Houghtlin UAB Graduate and 
Co-founder of the Advocacy Group, Listen
Cara McClure Cara McClure Co-founder, Black Lives 
Matter Birmingham
Victor Revill Victor Revill Attorney, Revill & Associates
Dr. Ed Watkins Dr. Ed Watkins Retired Birmingham and New York City Police Detective
Joyce Vance Joyce Vance Former U.S. Attorney - Northern District of Alabama
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