By Caleb Probst, Reporter
A 90-day “deep dive” into the Birmingham Police Department’s rules and procedures will be conducted by Birmingham’s community safety task force according to mayor Randall Woodfin, who spoke at a news conference Wednesday.
“Actions must be put in place to ensure our police uphold the highest levels of professionalism as public servants to people of our city,” Woodfin said.
Protesters around the city have been advocating for police reform in response to the murder of George Floyd, a Minnesota resident whose death at the hands of a police officer has triggered nationwide protests against police brutality, racism, and police accountability. Mayor Woodfin said the Birmingham Police Department will be intentional about practicing accountability and building trust within the community.
“People have been very clear about what they want from this administration,” Woodfin said. “Many have contacted us and identified practices and policies that may eliminate police involved injuries and deaths. That’s a good first step.”
Mayor Woodfin was joined by Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith, who said the police will continue to listen to community activists and make sure the police department follows the best practices in law enforcement.
“I don’t take what I do lightly, or how I serve this city lightly,” Smith said. “This department has done real work to update policies and procedures, and most importantly, we’re listening.”
In response to police brutality protests, Smith said the Birmingham Police Department doesn’t teach any behaviors involving strangling or unnecessary violence.
“We do not teach choke holds, and we do not shoot at moving vehicles unless there is a direct threat to our officers,” Smith said. “I want you to know we do not endorse any of the behaviors shown by Officer Chauvin in George Floyd’s murder.”
Richard Haluska, the President of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police, said the police will continue to “bridge the gap” between themselves and the community.
“We see a need for change. We see things that need to be changed,” Haluska said. “We want everyone to feel safe, we want to hear your concerns, and help you get the help you need.”