Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is the primary law-enforcement agency in Jefferson County, with jurisdiction in municipalities and unincorporated areas of the County. The current Sheriff, first elected in 2002, is Mike Hale. In addition to patrols and investigation, the Sheriff's Office serves as officers of the Jefferson County District Court, serving legal processes and operating county jails.
The Sheriff's Office is headquartered at the Mel Bailey Justice Center at 8th Avenue North and 21st Street in downtown Birmingham. A second main office is located in the Jefferson County Bessemer Justice Center. Individual patrols operate from substations at Cahaba Heights, Center Point, Forestdale, Mount Olive, Oak Grove, and Sylvan Springs. The department's School Resource Division provides officers to the Jefferson County School System. The office also operates the Jefferson County Sheriff's Academy, the only such academy in Alabama. Other units include Motor Scouts, Highway Safety Unit, Bomb Squad, Civil Disturbance Detail, Canine Unit, Crisis Negotiation Team, Animal Cruelty Specialists, Truck Weighing Unit, Honor Guard, and SWAT. A corps of Reserve Deputies are available to transport prisoners, work security details, and fill in during weekends and periods of high activity.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office was formed in 1819, as soon as Alabama was admitted to the Union. The County Seat, until 1872, was Elyton, and it was there that Levi Reid served as the first sheriff.
A watershed event in the history of the department was the 1888 decision by Sheriff Joseph S. Smith to have his deputies fire into a mob that had gathered to deliver Richard Hawes to their own justice. Smith, as well as Birmingham Police Chief O. A. Pickard and Lieutenant Joe Nix were later charged with the murder of postmaster Maurice Throckmorton, a casualty of the mob's violent dispersal. The officers were never convicted and no lynch mob has stormed the county jail since then.
The longest-serving sheriff in Jefferson County was Mel Bailey, who wore the badge from 1963 to 1996.
In August 2006 the department's Highway Safety Unit was recognized as the "Interdiction Team of the Year" at the 16th Annual Motor Vehicle Criminal Interdiction, Intelligence Networking, and Training Conference in Indianapolis.
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