Although Chief Scott Thurmond is a Birmingham Police Department veteran, he recently stepped into a new role as Chief of Police this past January.
What does this Chief have up his sleeve? We sat down with him to discover his thoughts on the state of Birmingham, proactivity on fighting violent crimes and how initiatives are helping Birmingham become a safer, better place.
From the inside out
Chief Thurmond got his start in the late 90s at the Patrol Bureau at the North Precinct where he served the Titusville and Smithfield communities from 1999-2005 as a patrolman and Field Training Officer. From there, he climbed the ladder in different special units until securing the title of Chief in January 2022.
BN: What made you choose a career in law enforcement and what would you say to someone who’s interested in a career in public safety?
Thurmond: “I wanted to help people. I wanted something that was different everyday, ever changing. The Birmingham Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Alabama. There’s a lot more room for advancement—we hire at 19, have 20 year retirement and a four-day work week. In Birmingham, you might get to experience, do and see more than in a smaller municipality.”
Of course, a new role comes with new responsibilities, some unforeseen.
BN: What have you learned on the first six months of the job?
Thurmond: “I’ve learned more about how city government works and why things take a while. You see a lot of ‘why can’t this happen, why can’t that happen’ but it’s just checks and balances to make sure things are done the right way.”
Combating a negative perception
It’s no surprise that some Birmingham natives have a negative perception on the city. From concerns about safety, past history and general morale—some people aren’t as involved in city initiatives. Wondering what the Birmingham Chief of Police would say to those who have concerns about Birmingham’s safety?
BN: What would you say to someone who would classify Birmingham as a “dangerous” and “unsafe” city?
Thurmond: “Birmingham has a lot of fantastic things going on. Previously, people would leave downtown at 5PM, but now we’re seeing the absolute opposite. There are people flocking to downtown, living downtown, businesses and grocery stores downtown, the new Protective Stadium. There are so many things going on in Birmingham.”
BN: How are these things contributing to spreading the message of health and positivity in our city?
Thurmond: Well, it’s just positive to see things being renovated and things being built. You have restaurants, you have entertainment attractions—this is the draw for people to come and do those things. And just the history of Birmingham—there’s a lot of the draw. The Civil Rights attractions is a huge draw. There’s a number of people who have come from out of town just to, to see and to walk in what what took place here during those movements. It’s a good thing that we learn from our history.
With all of the new city initiatives, it’s important to keep our city safe. So—how are they doing it?
What’s next for Birmingham public safety
After taking a slight pause on expanding existing programs and initiatives due to the pandemic, Chief Thurmond is excited to get these back up and running—including new measures to account for the city’s recent developments to keep us all safe.
BN: Moving forward, are there any initiatives in place or in the works to help Birmingham become a safer place as people flock to downtown areas, or to combat violent crime?
Thurmond: “So, one thing that we’ve recently reinvigorated was some of the relationships with our federal partners. That’s very beneficial to us in fighting crime. They have additional resources. And violent crime is a nationwide problem. It’s not just a Birmingham problem, as we look across our nation. Gun violence is a problem for a number of cities. Birmingham wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
BN: Can you tell us more about the updates to the Real Time Crime Center?
Thurmond: “It’s built out, but we’re adding additional technology to it. As we do that, we’ll have more benefits, rolling out our public piece to that where the public can add their cameras onto our system, not for us to constantly view but if a crime occurs in area, we can go back and review the footage and get the information that we need to help solve the crime. It’ll be completed within the year.”
This is a great new development that allows the public to be part of the solution. For more information about the Real Time Crime Center, check out their website.
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