BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — March Madness tips off Thursday and for some in Birmingham, there are still lingering questions about safety at the games.
Around the BJCC and Legacy Arena area, visitors and fans can expect to see more police officers patrolling the area.
“We want to saturate that area with Birmingham police officers,” said Birmingham Police Department officer Truman Fitzgerald.”
The BPD said it’s partnering with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for extra March Madness security. Over the next couple days, the BPD said some officers’ schedules will move around to have a steady police presence in the area throughout the day.
Some visitors said it’s a relief to see so many police around in a city they may not know as well.
“Seeing all of this police presence and security — that definitely makes us feel safer,” said out-of-towner Alicia Noble.
This isn’t the city’s first time hosting thousands of people for a sporting event. Police said it picked up on a few things from the World Games.
“We have groups in Birmingham that like to target vehicles, and again, that’s why we stress car break-ins are always a concern of ours when you have a lot of people in a saturated area,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re aware that the arena has strict policies of what you can bring in and if you’re forced to leave valuables in the car, just do your best to hide those belongings.”
A worry in the back of some people’s minds as they prepare to come downtown for the basketball games is Monday night’s shooting by Pizitz Food Hall. Police said while it recognizes this is likely a concern people have, the incident was isolated, targeted and “could have happened anywhere.”
“You’re going to be as safe as you can possibly be down there,” Fitzgerald said.