Birmingham heading into 2020 with new projects, larger police force

Special Reports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham is the Alabama’s largest city making up 31% of the state’s gross domestic product.

Mayor Randall Woodfin is quick to tell residents the city doesn’t have to be like Atlanta, Nashville, or even Huntsville, but that it just needs to be the best version of itself. To do that, Woodfin said the city is working to deliver on a number of developments for 2020.

“My favorite things I like to see is cranes in the sky,” WOodfin said. “That tells you that there is progress in that city.”

Many of the cranes Woodfin is talking about are finishing up the I-59/20 bridge project slated to be completed in 2020.

“It’s important to make sure people get from point A to point B in this city in the most efficient way,” he said. “We’re happy that this interstate will be open very soon.”

Next year, a number of projects are planned for development, not only in downtown, where construction of the new Protective Stadium will gear up in full force, but also Southside with the renewal of Southtown Court. Demolition of the units is scheduled for the summer of 2020.

“In this first quarter of 2020, I think most people would see more street paving, which I think most residents will be excited about,” Woodfin said.

Ensley neighbors are also excited about planned development for their community.

“At some point in 2020, you’ll see movement on the McCormick building,” Woodfin said. “The city of Birmingham has 26 small business districts. Downtown Ensley is one of them. We’ve made that a priority.”

Woodfin said the city’s main priority continues to be neighborhood revitalization and for Chief Patrick Smith of the Birmingham Police Department, that also means safer neighborhoods in 2020. To accomplish that, the department plans to roll out a real-time crime center, modeled after the one in Detroit.

“Our real-time crime center is just a more modern way of policing so that we are able to get real time information to our officers as they are responding to calls,” Smith said.

Operating new technology a year from now is crucial for a more efficient and effective modern police department, so the department is also launching a new app for smartphones.

“On the app, it will have jail information, things that will really help them to see what’s going on, what’s happening and also just community information as well, the latest releases and things of that nature,” Smith said.

Perhaps more important will be a larger police force. Smith said he has recruited over 200 officers since his arrival, bringing the level up to 860 and budgeted for 905 in 2020. The goal is to reach 1,000 officer by 2021.

“We want to make sure that we have an adequate number of police officers out in the field each day that are adequately trained to address crime within the community, also to be prepared for the 2021 World Games,” he said.

A more modern police force is a priority in 2020 for Chief Smith. Mayor Woodfin said he will lay the groundwork for more minorities and women doing business with the city.


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