Arthur V. "Artie" Deutsch (born December 13, 1931 in Brooklyn, NY; died November 27, 2021 in Birmingham) was Chief of the Birmingham Police Department from 1982 to 1991. He came to Birmingham from the New York City Police Department.
Deutsch spent twenty years of his career with the NYPD, rising to the post of head of the Brooklyn precinct while also moonlighting as an instructor at the City College of New York. He was also the author of a story adapted into a 1974 episode of the television series "McCloud", and a 1978 crime novel, entitled Sterett. He and his wife, Elaine, had six children.
He was offered several posts around the country, and apparently accepted more than one only to turn them down before reaching an agreement with Mayor Richard Arrington in late 1981. Arrington, who had come into conflict with the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police Birmingham Lodge No. 1 over his longstanding criticism of police brutality, had turned to outside candidates after the Jefferson County Personnel Board refused to accept the qualifications of acting chief Jack Warren.
Arrington's goal in hiring Deutsch was to increase the professionalism of the Department. To that end he instituted training programs, reorganized the operations of the property department, and succeeded in getting the department nationally accredited. He also instituted stricter enforcement of police uniform policy, including a requirement that police caps be worn on duty. The chief's tenure was unpopular with the FOP, and he blamed his enemies there for feeding negative stories to the press. He filed a lawsuit against the Birmingham Post-Herald, alleging libel. The suit was dismissed by summary judgement, and the dismissal was upheld on appeal.
Deutsch was also accused of physical assault on several occasions. He allegedly jabbed a female Birmingham News reported with his elbow in an elevator, and was twice accused of punching Birmingham City Council member John Katopodis in the gut. An allegation of violent abuse was also brought to the department by the principal of Deutsch's daughter's school.
Arrington came to suspect that Deutsch was also involved in his son's 1984 arrest for possession of 1.5 ounces of cocaine following a planned sting operation. He agreed to a plea deal to cooperate in the prosecution of his supplier in return for probation.
Deutsch was convicted of doctoring police records relating to the arrest of Erica Arrington, the Mayor's daughter, in July 1990, and was fined and sentenced to serve a year in prison by Judge Joe Jasper. The conviction was overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court and a new trial ordered. In the meantime, Deutsch was injured in a fall in a stairway at Birmingham City Hall. In January 1995 he suffered a stroke. He was eventually declared incompetent to stand trial, resulting in a dismissal of the criminal charges.
|Chief of Birmingham Police Department
Johnnie Johnson Jr
- Arrington, Richard (2008) There's Hope for the World: The Memoir of Birmingham, Alabama's First African-American Mayor Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press
- Obituary (December 2, 2021) The Birmingham News