BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Police Chief A.C. Roper joined Mayor William Bell at City Hall Monday to announce a new initiative that places more officers in high crime neighborhoods. They’re calling it Operation Eagle.
“When officers make a big arrest, perfect! Outstanding! Good work, officer. But what about if we never had to make the arrest in the first place?” said Sgt. Bryan Shelton as we drove toward West Birmingham.
He said the goal of Operation Eagle is to increase police visibility in the crime hot spots of the city, not just so they can respond to crimes faster, but so that they can hopefully prevent it altogether.
“We’re concentrating in those areas. Giving those areas a little more attention,” said Shelton.
The beat officers are still working the streets, but now they’ve got assistance from other departments.
“Members of our detective bureau, some members of our tactical or SWAT team, narcotics team,” and others said Shelton.
Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said higher visibility can translate into lower crime rates.
“The department will continue to ‘key on three,’ and that’s people, places and behaviors that lead to violent crime,” said Roper.
Sgt. Shelton elaborated:
“Who’s committing the crimes? Who are the most dangerous people? Who are the repeat offenders? … Some of our homicides have happened at convenience store or gas stations so we’ll ride and patrol those areas a lot more … All it takes is one argument at a gas station and somebody ups a gun and you’ve got a homicide,” said Shelton.
The chief also said the department is short handed, but they’re working on ways to hire and retain good officers.
In the meantime, he said, “The key for us is to make sure we’re being as effective and efficient as we can be with the resources that we have.”
Roper said the operation is scheduled to last 30 days, but could go longer. He said they’ll evaluate the results, then decide where to go from there.