BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham Police claim "Operation Eagle" is a success.
It is a police program designed to improve community relations that began in April in high-crime areas. The department said violent crime is down. Chief A.C. Roper said this is for two reasons: more police officers are in high-crime areas and that is leading to better relationships in these areas.
The Chief, Mayor William Bell and an ATF special agent said "Operation Eagle" is not going away any time soon. Roper said this latest part of the game-plan to fight crime in the city after two months , has been positive through collaboration with the community.
Chief said at a news conference, "Reception from our community members has been extremely positive. Because it is not just about enforcement but also building relationships. When people trust the department, they are more likely to call the department when they see the issue."
This "all-hands on deck approach" to fighting crime in the city puts more officers in problem areas, shifts units when necessary and actively watches trends in crime. It also included the exchange of information with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency to monitor illegal gun sales.
Assistant Special Agent David Hyche stated at the conference, "Another big part of it is catching these sources of crime guns. That is who we really want to get. Because if you have one person out there who is taking guns or trading/selling guns for dope," said Hyche. "They are farming crime in that area. That's cancer and the cancer needs to be removed."
Now the city and police department wants to offer business owners signs to post outside stores to letting potential criminals know they are on camera.
"We have cameras deployed throughout the city," explained Chief Roper. "But we have never used signage and this is all in an effort to prevent crime."
Homicide numbers are reaching similar totals from 2016 but Mayor Bell said this program is helping to slow violent crime.
Mayor Bell explained, "The general public has exhibited a higher level of participation with us. It's that type of support we need to continue to lower violent crime in our community."
Police precincts in the coming weeks will be making these signs available to business owners in their respective areas.
Chief Roper acknowledged "Operation Eagle" is costing Birmingham Police hundreds of thousands of dollars through overtime. Yet he said the risk of raising department costs is worth the reward of lower crime rates.