New Birmingham Police Chief: ‘We Are Not The Enemy’

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Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith

Office of Public Information,City of Birmingham

Friday marked one full week on the job for Patrick Smith, who was recently appointed Birmingham’s police chief. Smith comes to the city after having spent 28 years in law enforcement in Los Angeles. With a relentless string of recent homicides and growing public concerns about violence around the city, Smith has a big job ahead of him. He talked with WBHM’s Sherrel Wheeler Stewart at City Hall about his plans to make Birmingham safer.

Here are excerpts from that conversation.

 

Connecting With Youth and Preventing Violence

I value our young people. And I want to work with them and let them know that the doors of the police station are open and we are not the enemy.

 

Addressing the Greatest Challenges in Fighting Crime

What we’ve done thus far is to add two investigators to our homicide division and I’m going to add two more. One of the things that I’ve done is to implement a 72 hour rule. I want those detectives who are working some of the most violent crimes within the city to conduct an investigation for 72 hours. I want them to do a presentation to me. Tell me what they’ve done where they’re going.

 

Increasing the Police Presence.

One of my primary goals has to be recruitment. And here’s what I mean. Right now, the Birmingham Police Department has 119 vacancies. That’s a lot of officers who could be doing more in our community.

 

How the 1992 LA Riots Impacted A Career in Law Enforcement Policing During the 1992 LA Riots

My assignment was in Watts, working primarily in the epicenter of where everything occurred.
It had a great impact upon me as a law enforcement officer. And here is what I mean. I went to our police academy just yesterday and I spoke to some of our new officers and I let them know my expectation. The homeless man that you see on that bench, treat them like that’s your brother. The homeless woman who’s pushing the shopping cart, talk to her like she’s your sister.  If she needs help, if they need anything, never equate someone’s financial situation by reducing them in the level of respect or dignity that we provide them.