The mobile police chief, who faces a surge in violent crimes, including drive-by shooting on major roadways, said the city is changing resources to respond and the public can “rest assured that our officers will be in full force.”
Chief Paul Prynne, who received questions from the media on Monday afternoon, said his squad had some issues. These include a new high-tech initiative, as well as new officers and staff transfers that bring first and third premises to full staff “for the first time in many years.”
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Prynne said his officers and investigators were facing a lack of cooperation from some victims and witnesses. Another problem is that concerns about the COVID-19 epidemic have hampered some of the relationships that mobile PD has developed with various community groups, causing chronic loss of communication.
Prynne said Mobile has committed 47 murders so far this year. James Barber, who was head of staff at the time and is now Chief of Staff for Mayor Sandy Stimpson, is above the annual average of 30 cited in 2019. In the city, there were 20 murders in 2000, and 56 in 1990, the highest in recent history. Rates can vary significantly from year to year: after 50 in 2017, the city saw 26 in 2018 and 43 in 2019.
Recent Events Cars were shot in broad daylight on Dauphin Street and I-65, Spring Hill Avenue and I-65 on Spring Hill Avenue near Mobile Infirmary and USA Health Children’s and Women’s Hospital.
Investigations are finding that most of these cases are the result of a disturbance that started in other parts of town, Preen said. The Spring Hill Avenue shooting near two hospitals on Nov. 11 is one example.
“One case on Spring Hill Avenue, without going into it, is that this is an ongoing investigation so we have better information to believe in retaliation. [attack] From the other side of town, another shooting, another date, ”Prin said.
Pryn cited the case of two men fatally shot in a car early Sunday morning in the 6200 block of Rangeline Road. (Monday’s victims were identified as Duane Williams, 23, and Andre Carter, 36, of Mississippi.)
“That investigation is underway. I am sure when I told you that the incident started at Prichard’s Club and the victims were returning to Mississippi, traveling westbound on I-10, when the car parked beside them and opened fire.” “I can say with certainty that this involved some kind of altercation that occurred or started in Prichard.”
“We are dealing with these problems. We are addressing these issues,” Prin said. “We do a couple of things to get rid of it. Some of them include increased patrols. Primarily, the most violent crimes you see nowadays are in the area of first and third premises.
In October, new officers who were graduated from training were sent to those areas and other personnel changes were flowing in greater manpower. Another 16 cadets will graduate on Tuesday, Prin said.
“For the first time in many years, they will be in full force with both the first and third premises,” he said.
The challenges remain. “Just because we didn’t make an arrest on it doesn’t mean we don’t know who the players are,” Prin said. “Unfortunately, the law regulates how we arrest whether or not we have a cooperative victim. In most cases, victims do not cooperate or provide information to us. That is crucial information in any criminal case.
When communication with community groups is inactive, it hurts more. Prine said many groups stopped meeting during the epidemic.
“Before COVID we had a good community action program and we not only had residential community programs but also commercial action groups that helped them,” the chief said. “COVID has really urged us to take a back seat to that community engagement. Now that COVID is declining, arguably, we’re trying to get those community action groups back to the plate.
He said police are reaching out to past contacts and community meetings between city council members and the public are slowly resuming. He said he had recently attended such a meeting with newly elected councilman Scott Jones.
“Even though we have to be on the back of COVID, we are still dealing with a lot of the fears and perceptions people have,” he said.
Another problem is that the court system seeks to recover from its own COVID breakdown as repeat offenders remain on bond for a long time.
“We need to get the proceedings back in the docket and we have to lock up the repeat offenders who are on bond to commit new crimes. And that is really out of the control of the police department.”
Stimpson recently released the first 100-day project of its third term. At its bullet points were plans to adopt new gunshot detection technology. The technology is promising and “we’re trying some new things with it,” Prin said.
In cooperation with Alabama Power, police said they hope to connect the gun detection system to the cameras, which respond fast enough to capture images of suspects fleeing the scene.
Prynne said he was confident the police could stop the tide.
“We have some challenges ahead of us,” he said. “I was aware of the challenges when I took the job.”