Birmingham Office of Peace & Policy

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The Birmingham Office of Peace & Policy (formerly the Birmingham Weed & Seed Task Force, the Birmingham Community Policing and Revitalization Division, the Birmingham Mayor's Office of Community Policing and Revitalization and the Birmingham Office of Community Engagement) is an administrative office of the City of Birmingham, located at 1200 Tuscaloosa Avenue Southwest.

The Birmingham Weed & Seed Task Force began operating in the 1990s as a program of the Birmingham Police Department with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, and in coordination with the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity. It operated as part of the Department's Investigative Bureau, headed by Terrie Lee-Burrell, with offices at the East Precinct headquarters in Roebuck.

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The grant program was designed to "weed" out harmful elements like gang and drug activity, from struggling neighborhoods and to "seed" the community with social services, communication links and goodwill between the police department and the public.

The first community to participate in Birmingham Weed & Seed was West End, which began in the early 1990s. Northside began participating with its own slate of programs in 2006. That community, made up of the Central City, Druid Hills, and Norwood neighborhoods, sponsored a citizen police academy, a personal finance seminar, and co-sponsored the Central City neighborhood's "1040 Fest". A November 26, 2007 forum at Birmingham City Hall was held to present the program's requirements and benefits to leaders from other neighborhoods.

Randall Woodfin worked with the program staff for the Birmingham Weed & Seed Task Force in the early 2000s.

On January 24-25, 2007, as part of the Northside Community Weed & Seed Program, members of the non-profit Economic Development Council toured the Central City, Druid Hills, and Norwood neighborhoods and met with local public officials to develop ideas about realistic development opportunities in those areas. The group's visit concluded with a public forum at the Birmingham Public Library.

In 2015, with the support of Police Chief A. C. Roper the office was awarded additional federal grant funding as part of the DOJ's "National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice". That grant, which dovetailed with separate "Project Safe Neighborhoods" funding to saturate "hot spots" with law enforcement, provided opportunities for training police in community engagement, bias recognition and de-escalation of violence.

Under the leadership of director Andre Watson the officers assigned to the office worked to cultivate relationships with members of the Woodlawn community to more effectively reduce prostitution and gang activities. Those officers shifted their attentions to West End in early 2017 and the office moved to its present location, the former JCCEO Community Services building, in April 2017.

The office was restructured in 2018 by Mayor Randall Woodfin to develop and implement strategies aimed at reducing violence and promoting public health. The updated program was patterned after Milwaukee, Wisconsin's "Blueprint for Peace".

The office is headed by Brandon Johnson. It is funded by the City and by grants, and partners with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Jefferson County Department of Health for certain programs. The office's logo refers to the West African symbol for "sankofa," expressing the importance of looking to the past as you move forward.

Programs

  • Citizens on Patrol
  • Citizens Police Academy
  • Youth Police Academy
  • Shadow Executive Program
  • Cops We Care

References