BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Birmingham leaders continue to address an increase in deadly crime, CBS 42 is learning more about major security upgrades to all properties in the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD).
Close to 500 cameras, 70 license plate readers and 70 floodlights will be added across a total of 14 HABD properties across the city.
“We want to deter individuals in most of the cases that is coming on our property and committing crimes against our residents or against other guests that may be on the property,” President and CEO of HABD David Northern said.
Many of the new tools are already in use at the Southtown Court Apartments but will be rolled out to other properties soon.HABD Commissioners viewed a presentation on the technology last week.
“The increased cameras give us an opportunity to view, scan, and really take a look at what is going on and what is happening. The cameras that we had installed was credited with solving at least two murders in Southtown,” said Northern.
There have been a number of deadly shootings at HABD properties recently. In early May, 62-year-old Perry Lee Mixon was shot and killed in the Kingston community. Back in February, 2-year-old Major Turner was shot and killed as he was inside his family’s apartment in the Kimbrough Homes community.
In September 2020, 66-year-old Fannie Stevenson Carter was shot and killed in Elyton Village. Police said she was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of an argument between other groups.
Birmingham Police said the cameras will be a great addition for officers. Images will tie into the city’s real-time crime center once it opens later this summer.
“We’ve seen here recently where the criminal element, they are getting a little bit smarter, so we have to up our game in law enforcement,” BPD Sgt. Rodarius Mauldin said.
Mauldin said officers do proactively patrol HABD properties, but the cameras will allow officers to use the cameras to get a live look at a scene after a 911 call.
“From the time we receive the call, we can provide our officers with real-time information so they have more intel of what they are going into. It keeps our officers safe and also our community members,” said Mauldin.
HABD and BPD hope the cameras will act as a deterrent, but may also be helpful in the prosecution of a suspect.
Some neighbors have expressed concerns about the surveillance, but Northern promised access to the system is limited.
“If you are not committing crimes. If you are not doing anything wrong or you are not doing anything against the law related to our communities that we are serving then you have nothing to worry about,” Northern continued. “I am sure that those seniors that want to be able to walk peacefully and those young people and children that want to be able to play peacefully appreciate our efforts in what we are doing.”
Alabama Power is also installing dozens of floodlights at properties to improve lighting. The technology can be moved as properties are repurposed.
Southtown will be demolished later in 2021, but equipment will be moved and used elsewhere. License plate readers are a part of the FLOCK camera system. Images can be used by law enforcement agencies that use the program in Alabama. The devices are in use in many other cities across the Birmingham metro area.
“We’ve seen cases where we have had a suspect commit some pretty violent crimes, and those license plate readers really aided in tracking their direction of travel in terms of them being and putting them at that location as well as leaving that location so that aids in our investigations in which that evidence helps us out when it is time to go to court and provide justice for our families,” said Mauldin.
BPD expects to have the real-time crime center finished by June or July of this year.