Patrick Smith

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Patrick Smith

Patrick D. Smith (born c. 1963 in Tuscaloosa) is a former Chief of the Birmingham Police Department.

Smith was the youngest of 13 children born to Jasper and Dorothy Smith, a foundry worker and Head Start teacher, respectively. He grew up attending First African Baptist Church and graduated from Tuscaloosa's Central High School. Afterward he spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including service in Japan and the Philippines. He completed his bachelor of science in business management, as well as a master of arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.

Smith joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1990. He was promoted training officer in 1994, to field sergeant in 1998, to assistant watch commander in 2001, and to lieutenant and watch commander in 2006. In 2007 Smith was made officer-in-charge of the department's internal affairs section. He was promoted to captain and assigned as a patrol commanding officer in 2010 and to police commander for the 10,000 member force in 2015.

After the retirement of A. C. Roper, incoming Mayor of Birmingham Randall Woodfin launched a national search for a new police chief. Smith was selected over deputy chief Henry Irby and Malik Aziz of Dallas, Texas. Allen Treadaway was appointed to the new position of Assistant Chief.

As chief, Smith has instituted several measures intended to increase police visibility, support effective investigations, and react quickly to crime "hot spots" with enhanced surveillance and checkpoints. He combined the homicide and robbery detectives' units into a "Crimes against Persons Division", changed the patrol schedule to four ten-hour shifts overlapping during high-crime periods, and implemented the "PredPol" predictive software platform to analyze time and location data from crime reports as a means of forecasting when and where resources will be most needed. Smith has lauded the success of the Jefferson County Metro Area Crime Center in coordinating the work of various local law enforcement agencies and initiated the development of a Birmingham Police Real Time Crime Center which went into operation in 2021.

Smith brought his experience with programs for public housing communities in Los Angeles into negotiations for a "Community Safety Partnership" (CSP) with the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District in 2019. The $3.6 million program contract includes increased police presence and community engagement. In 2020 the CSP was credited with a 55% decrease in crime at Elyton Village, along with smaller reductions in other communities.

Smith hired another LAPD veteran, Darnell Davenport, as deputy chief, and promoted him to succeed Treadaway as assistant chief and head of the department's administrative bureau in December 2020.

In May 2021 the executive board and board of trustees of Fraternal Order of Police Birmingham Lodge No. 1 passed an unprecedented joint resolution expressing a lack of confidence in Chief Smith and Assistant Chief Davenport, alleging that their tenure has been marked by rising rates of violent crime and a drop in officer morale. Lawrence Billups, a Birmingham Police corporal and chair of the FOP Lodge's board of trustees claimed that the two executives were responsible for "constant harassment, retaliation and mistreatment," of officers. In responding to the resolution, Smith disputed the claim that violent crime was rising, as well as the allegations of harassment, and noted that the resolutions were not voted on by the wider membership of the Lodge. He blamed the action on individuals with grudges, and suggested that members of the board were resisting necessary changes in training and tactics meant to preserve the safety and well-being of officers and the public.

On June 2 a group of several dozen officers gathered in support of Smith's leadership and questioned how the FOP boards' votes were conducted. Spokespersons from both groups indicated that they would support holding a full vote of the Lodge's membership.

Smith resigned in early 2022 to attend to "personal matters". His resignation officially took effect on February 25, but he requested paid administrative leave beginning on January 28. Scott Thurmond was appointed as acting chief in his absence. In 2023 he was hired to lead the Lakewood Police Department in Lakewood, Washington.

Preceded by:
Henry Irby (interim)
Chief of Birmingham Police Department
June 25, 2018January 28, 2022
Succeeded by:
Scott Thurmond (acting)