Working conditions of police officers in Birmingham in need of repair

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Police are sworn to protect and serve, yet many of them claim they’re working in deplorable conditions. Their working conditions are probably not how you’d expect police officers to describe where they work. One officer, who spoke with WIAT 42 News on the condition of anonymity, says working conditions are “a real dump.” Birmingham police officers say they’ve had enough of the promises for a new precinct, and they want answers.

Police stationThe officer interviewed says the nearly 50-year-old West Precinct is falling apart. Pictures obtained by WIAT 42 News shows the conditions inside are less than stellar – from chipping paint to wires dangling dangerously. “The coldest days of winter this year, we had no heat for two days,” the officer said. “There are times in the summer we may not have air conditioning. At any given moment you may smell the raw sewage coming out of the restrooms.” He says what’s also frustrating is the feeling of their concerns being brushed off by Chief A.C. Roper. “Nothing from police leadership that is charged with supervising by also taking care of our concerns and providing resources for us to do our jobs,” the officer said. “They have said nothing.”

“The coldest days of winter this year, we had no heat for two days. There are times in the summer we may not have air conditioning. At any given moment you may smell the raw sewage coming out of the restrooms.” -Birmingham Police Officer 

However, Roper denies that claim. He says it’s “absolutely false.” “We’ve tried to give every response the appropriate response regarding the West Precinct,” Roper said. “We know we need a new precinct.” People who live in the district agree. They say a new precinct is desperately needed. “It’s is a crying shame,” said Sandra Lawrence. “I don’t know who is responsible and who is not responsible.” A project that began in 2010 to put a new West Precinct in Five Points West is not yet halfway finished. There’s currently only a shell of a building on a weed-infested lot surrounded by a chain-link fence. “Here we are, a project that costs $2.2 million and four years later, we’re no better off than when we started,” Councilman Steven Hoyt said.

Bell Statement Hoyt says he’s extremely frustrated the project still hasn’t been completed in his district, and he blames Birmingham Mayor William Bell. WIAT 42 News asked the mayor’s office for a response to the claims, and they issued the following statement: “Unfortunately, the City is in litigation on this matter. And while we cannot speak fully, we are working with Chief Roper, the West Precinct and our Planning and Engineering office to execute the takeover agreement and get our officers in the facility they deserve. At the end of the day, it is about them and not us.”

Hoyt says the legal issues between the city and the developer are an unacceptable excuse, because the city is self-insured. He says the city approved an additional $250,000 in 2013 to finish the project, so there is no excuse for it not to be complete.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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