Birmingham Public Safety Advisory Committee

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The Birmingham Public Safety Advisory Committee, formerly the Birmingham Civilian Review Board is an appointed board, created in 2021 by Mayor Randall Woodfin, which is charged with investigating complaints of misconduct by the Birmingham Police Department.


The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May 2020 set off a major wave of protests, broader support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and a growing call for "defunding" police, or moving public resources away from armed responses to crime, and toward social and economic crime reduction programs.

Birmingham Public Safety Task Force

In Birmingham, mayor Woodfin and chief Patrick Smith promised to review department policies, specifically with regard to Campaign Zero's "#8CANTWAIT" recommendations for reducing direct harm caused by police. On July 14 Woodfin immediately adopted a ban on chokeholds and a requirement that other officers intervene and report incidents of excessive violence. Other policy changes were recommended for further evaluation by a Birmingham Public Safety Task Force which was created for the purpose.

Their recommendations, published in December 2020, included creating a Citizens' Review Board, expanding the role of social workers in domestic violence calls, making police procedures more transparent, and holding quarterly roundtables with advocacy groups.

Birmingham Civilian Review Board

Woodfin announced the creation of a Civilian Review Board on April 19, 2021, the first such board to be established in any Alabama city.

Woodfin appointed Victor Revill, Joyce Vance, Annetta Nunn, Lawrence Conaway, and T. Marie King as the board's inaugural members. They began meeting in July to hold "listening sessions" and to evaluate similar programs in Durham, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and St Louis, Missouri. Vance was elected to serve as chair.

The board was empowered to investigate complaints of misconduct submitted by residents, with limited subpoena power under Alabama law. A citizen's complaint made to the Birmingham Office of Peace & Policy would open a 30-day review period, during which staff from that office could assist in gathering information. At the end of the review, the board would publicize its findings in a public hearing, and submit a report with recommended actions to the chief of police. Recommendations could take the form of disciplinary actions against officers implicated in misconduct, or they could relate to department policies and practices in a more general sense. The department was not obligated to implement the recommendations of the Civilian Review Board.

Incidents relating to matters already under active investigation by the Birmingham Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, the Birmingham Department of Human Resources, the Jefferson County District Attorney, the Jefferson County Personnel Board, or the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (which investigates all police-involved shootings) would not be subject to the board's jurisdiction.

On July 20, 2021 Woodfin announced further changes to police policies, disallowing most "no-knock" warrants in which officers could enter a premises without announcing themselves. The policy establishes a risk-assessment and debriefing to accompany each warrant served.

By April 2022, however, the board had held no public hearings and issued no findings. Vance had stepped down and a successor had not been appointed to chair meetings. In the wake of three police-involved deaths between May 2021 and January 2022, activist Eric Hall attempted to contact board members to comment on the process to no avail. The Review Board's website instructs those wishing to file a complaint to download and fill out a printed form and return it by mail to the Office of Peace & Policy.

Birmingham Public Safety Advisory Committee

In September 2023 Woodfin announced the creation of a new Birmingham Public Safety Advisory Committee, the aims and scope of which. as well as the membership of which, were largely similar to the lapsed Civilian Review Board.

Instead of reporting findings to the Chief of Police, the Advisory Committee would report to the Mayor.


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