Homewood Police Department
The Homewood Police Department serves the City of Homewood, south of Birmingham, with a population of approximately 25,000. The department is located at 1833 29th Avenue South, with the city jail located on the second floor. The Chief of Police is Jim Roberson.
The Homewood Police Department consists of approximately 100 employees: over 70 officers and about 30 support personnel. There are three divisions: Patrol Division, Detective Division, and Administrative Division. The Patrol Division covers the three patrol shifts, the Special Operations Unit which oversees traffic safety, parking control, police special events, and the Communications Center housing 911 operations. The Detective Division covers the General Investigative Unit, the Community Services Unit which supervises the School Resource Officers and DARE, the Narcotics Unit, and the Evidence Unit. The Administrative Division covers a wide range of support units, including the jail, financial office, training unit, and internal affairs.
Homewood's police department was founded shortly after the vote that created the city in September 1926. It originally consisted of just two officers: Officer E. L. Scott and Captain W. F. Patterson. By February 1927, when the Alabama legislature approved the new city's creation, two more officers had been added to the force, plus Chief of Police Red Cunningham. In the early days, the department lacked two-way radios. In order to alert police to an emergency call, a large red light was turned on at city hall, which also housed police headquarters at the time.
The city purchased a used car for police use in December 1927. The car lacked heat, so during cold weather the officers spent their 12-hour shift with a jail blanket covering their legs. An oil lamp was placed beneath the blanket, so by the end of the shift the officers were covered in soot. The car was traded-in for a new car in October 1928.
In early 1928, the city council increased the number of officers on duty during the night. As the Great Depression set in, however, there was discussion in spring 1929 of reducing the police force, but the council decided against it. As the Depression continued, the council laid off one officer in 1930. Mayor Charles Rice proposed letting more officers go in the years that followed, but a group of citizens appeared before the council demanding "adequate police protection." The council agreed, leading to conflict between it and Mayor Rice. In the end, one officer that Rice had wanted to lay off was kept. In order to help compensate for the lack of manpower, the department used senior boys from Shades Cahaba High School to escort children at school intersections. When Mayor Rice was defeated during his 1932 re-election campaign, the new mayor and council restored the police department to three officers and new chief M. L. Allen.
The city was able to start enlarging the police department again in 1936, adding an extra officer. World War II, however, saw two officers leave to join the armed forces. May 1944 brought a nearly successful jail break, causing the city to appoint a night warden. The jail was also lacking in facilities to handle female prisoners, so the city successfully applied to the Wartime Production Board for materials to improve the jail.
During the 1950s, the department grew to 22 officers, two of them female. The department shared a practice range near Shades Creek Park with the Mountain Brook Police Department. The department kept up-to-date through the Alabama Police Academy.
In 1953, Homewood lost its first police officer in the line of duty. Officer Ned McCormack was riding in a patrol car on Old Montgomery Highway responding to a call just before dawn when the car was struck head-on by a Greyhound bus while going around a curve at Windsor Boulevard. The car's driver, Officer Oscar Davis, was also injured but survived. A plaque hangs in McCormack's honor at the police department.
In 1980 the department's facilities were upgraded. This included a new jail (the current one) and a new computer system.
In early 2009, a West Homewood police substation was opened in Centurion Square on Oxmoor Boulevard. Officers on the second and third shifts, plus the department's motor scout unit report to the substation.
- Red Cunningham, 1927–1932
- M. L. Allen, 1932–
- E. L. Scott, 1942–1955
- Edwin H. Wood, 1956–1977
- Jerry Haynes, 1977–1990
- Bill West, 1990–1994
- Charles Trucks, 1995–2003
- Burke Swearingen, 2003–2007
- Phil Dodd, 2007–March 1, 2011
- Jim Roberson, May 1, 2011-December 31, 2015
- Tim Ross, January 1, 2016-
- Summe, Sheryl Spradling. (2001). Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, AL: Friends of the Homewood Public Library.
- "News from the City." (February 2009). Homewood Times, p. 6.