Mayor's Minute: December
December 3, 2019
After years of significant crime reduction, Tuscaloosa has started to see a spike in crime over the past few months. This problem is not unique to our area. Chronic funding and management issues in the Alabama Department of Corrections, Mental Health, Pardons and Parole, and Courts have led to frequent arresting and re-arresting of repeat offenders throughout the state.
Nevertheless, the City has an obligation to do whatever it can to combat these problems, and we take this obligation very seriously. This is part of the reason why my 2020 budget allocates an additional $1.2 million towards fighting crime. This additional funding will allow the Tuscaloosa Police Department to hire six new police officers, upgrade body cameras, integrate new technology, and upgrade police vehicles. Additionally, this funding will provide supplemental street lighting for high crime areas.
Another City initiative that will have a dramatic impact on public safety is the creation of the TPD Cyber Intelligence Unit. The goal of the Cyber Intelligence Unit is to leverage technology to increase the efficacy, impact, and reach of current police efforts. Through state-of-the-art camera networks, advanced digital technology, and trained analysts, we will be better equipped than ever before to disrupt criminal activity. The unit will also partner with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and become a part of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The NIBIN provides advanced forensics to connect spent shell casings to a specific gun used to commit a crime. This evidence connects crime scenes in a way that can help identify potential suspects.
The funding and management challenges at the state level as referenced above will have to be addressed in Montgomery. However, as a City, we continue to seek innovative solutions to reduce crime in Tuscaloosa with our partners in law enforcement. As a part of this effort, our newly created repeat offender unit has been focusing on habitual offenders with a history of violent crimes. Last month, in collaboration with the FBI, ATF, Marshals Office, and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s department, TPD made 40 arrests totaling 140 total charges. Of those 140 charges, 57 were outstanding felony warrants, 39 were new felony charges, 28 were misdemeanor arrests, 16 were failure-to-appear violations, and 6 firearms were recovered.
I consider public safety to be the foremost responsibility of city government. We will continue to do everything in our power to disrupt those who seek to cause harm and destruction in our community. With resolve, innovation, and collaboration, we can keep Tuscaloosa’s neighborhoods safe and vibrant.