The recently released Birmingham Police Department 2016 Annual Report revealed that the city of Birmingham is a safe place, and other than an increase in larcenies, crime rates remained stable or declined slightly from 2015.
Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence submitted the annual report to city manager Joe Valentine, noting that, "The crime statistics for 2016 continue to reflect that the crime rate has remained consistently low over the course of the past several years." He noted that there were only 19 burglaries in all of 2016, for both residential and commercial structures, and "considering that the city has approximately 8,500 residential structures and another 500 commercial structures, this is a number all citizens should be very proud of."
The Birmingham Police Department currently has 32 sworn officers, up one in the last year, from 31 in 2015. Comparatively, in 2014, the department had 30; in 1991, 35; and 1965, 34. However, Clemence said they made three major operational changes to the department, with a new command staff structure, the patrol operation moving to a 12-hour shift format, and the addition of a new police officer, which allows for the assignment of a senior officer to the FBI Financial Crimes Task Force.
With the new command structure, the position of deputy chief of police was eliminated, and three commanders were put in place, for services division; investigative division; and operations division.
"All of these changes have resulted in positive results," Clemence wrote. "The command structure has been flattened to allow for greater communication and control. The 12-hour shift format has reduced sick time, reduced overtime and increased the number of officers on the street. The officer assigned to the FBI has assisted on a number of large scale fraud investigations of Birmingham residents whose cases crossed local, state and national jurisdictions."
The department had 14,863 calls for service in 2016, down from 2015, when they had 16,771 calls for service.
In 2016, there were 174 fraud complaints, compared to 181 in 2015. In 1991, there were 99, and in 1965, only 17 fraud complaints.
There were no incidents of homicide in 2016, and only one criminal sexual conduct, I or III. In 2014 and 2015, there were two complaints each year of criminal sexual conduct, and no homicides. There was one incident of arson in 2016.
There were 48 victims of assault in 2016, consistent with the 45 in 2015, and 50 in 2014.
The area that did see a spike was in larcenies, or common thefts, whether from stores, homes, automobiles or businesses. In 2016, there were 201 larcenies in Birmingham, while in 2015, there had been 158. That is still down considerably from 1991 and 1965 – in 1991, Birmingham had 728 larcenies, and in 1965, 707....continued on page 2