City Action Partnership
The City Action Partnership (CAP) in Downtown is a team of uniformed men and women (CAPs) who patrol on bicycles and in marked vehicles with rotating green lights. The CAPs work in tandem with law enforcement, businesses, and government in an attempt to keep downtown safe and friendly. In addition to patrols, CAPs answer questions and provide stranded motorist services free of charge to anyone in the CAP Service Area. Glen Robinson is the acting director of CAP following the retirement of long-time director Teresa Thorne. CAP's offices are located at 1704 5th Avenue North.
With the support of City Center businesses, Operation New Birmingham (ONB) helped form the CAP safety guide program in 1995 to improve both the actual safety and perception of safety in the area. The non-profit City Center District Management Corporation was created by a combination of a legislative act and a city ordinance to assess property owners in the "Business Improvement District" to fund its operations. The assessment is currently .001 of the assessed property value ($1 for every $1,000 dollars of value).
CAP spent over a decade headquartered at 1801 3rd Avenue North in the Goldstein building, leased from Birmingham Landmarks. The group was outgrowing the space, however, and Birmingham Landmarks was converting the second story of the building to the Hill Arts Center. This required an additional staircase exit to be built at that end of the building, making the CAPS space even smaller, so CAP relocated in the early part of 2008. CAP now shares space with Metropolitan Birmingham Services for the Homeless at its current headquarters, which is in Birmingham Parking Authority Deck 7.
CAP officers are hired through Security Engineers Inc. As of 2017, twelve of the fifteen officers were military veterans, and all were trained in first aid and CPR. The agency maintained a fleet of four pick-up trucks and fifteen bicycles. CAP also directs community service work ordered through the courts, usually in cleaning up litter and graffiti.
The CAP Service Area covers ninety blocks. It is bounded to the north by 11th Avenue North (including the Civic Center) south to 5th Avenue South, east to 22nd Street North (and South) and west to 16th Street North & 18th Street South, respectively.
Crime in the CAP Service Area dropped 72% over the first twenty years (1994-2004) of CAP's existence, compared to a national average of 20%. Using statistics from the FBI, in 2004 the CAP Service Area averaged one crime per 100 people who live or work Downtown. This was the best average in the metro Birmingham area, tied with the suburb of Vestavia Hills.1
In 2018 the City Center District Management Corporation contracted with REV Birmingham, a public/private partnership involved in economic development projects, to manage its operations, including the CAP patrols. In early 2019 the service added Segway transporters and an information cart to its equipment fleet. That was followed by a rebranding of the service with new blue uniforms and a new logo. CAP also added a full-time "Street Outreach Coordinator" to help manage the service's interactions with individuals experiencing homelessness.
There have been proposals to expand the service area to the Loft District and Five Points South. The program requires support from the owners of two-thirds of an area's property, by value, in order to expand.
CAP has sponsored special projects such as the 9-11 Memorial Walk, the Birmingham Pledge mural, and the Hanging Basket projects, as well as litter initiatives like "Can Your Butt".
- "Hats Off to CAP - in a new location!." (n.d. but c. December 6, 2008). Magic City Moments. Accessed March 20, 2009.
- Bowman, Nick (May 18, 2012) "Merchants want to bring CAP program to Five Points South." Birmingham Business Journal
- Worthy, Ariel (April 20, 2017) "City Action Partnership: How a non-profit agency helped reduce crime by 70 percent in downtown." The Birmingham Times
- Beahm, Anna (January 26, 2018) "REV Birmingham to manage CAP security team." The Birmingham News
- "CAP is Downtown for You - Now in Blue!" (April 29, 2019) REV Birmingham - accessed May 7, 2019
- CAPisDowntown.com website