Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Crime In Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, September 12, 2022

The reader should bear in mind that, in Alabama, there are:
399 TOTAL Law Enforcement Organizations
297 Municipal PDs
67 Sheriff’s Departments
25 Community College/University PDs
7 Judicial/Drug Task Force
2 Airport PDs
1 Special Investigations (fire/explosion)


CRIME IN ALABAMA

Alabama, like many, or even most, states, likes to crow about how much they appreciate, or even revere, their Law Enforcement Officials (LEOs). And, under a Republican ultra-majority dominated legislature, executive branch, and judiciary, for well over a decade, one would imagine that by now, the controlling party, since 2011, would have gotten a firm grip on problems facing residents — to either resolve, ameliorate, or eliminate them.

They have not.

Consider crime. Often touted as a Republican talking point, e.g. being “tough on crime,” one would imagine that not only the Corrections system would have corrected and reformed those entrusted to its “corrections,” but that Law Enforcement agencies statewide would be supported, strengthened, and improved by the Republicans to protect the public, and uphold the laws, as is their charge. The state’s prison system, like the ignored metaphorical “elephant in the room,” has long teetered on a Federal takeover for overcrowding, violence, inhumane conditions, and corruption, while Alabama’s LEOs and their agencies continue failing their charge of public protection by not arresting offenders, solving crimes, and bringing swift justice for the offended victims.

And that proverbial “three-legged stool” has at least one woefully short leg. And that, is solving crimes.

In law enforcement jargon, crimes are considered “cleared,” or solved, when a suspect is arrested, and sometimes, several crimes can be cleared with one arrest. But not always. That terminology is used nation-wide at all levels of law enforcement, Local, State, and Federal.

ALEA, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, was a creation of corrupt former GOP Governor Bentley, preceding his installment of Steve Marshall as Attorney General — an ineptly milquetoast weak District Attorney from Marshall County whose crowning achievement in public service was to be elected by Marshall Countians — was to prevent his prosecution for crimes violating the sacred public trust as Governor.

The immediate background leading to Marshall’s appointment is Machiavellian, even Shakespearean, in scope, and context. Bentley had to fill the vacancy he created by temporarily appointing Republican AG Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate, to fill the vacancy created by the nomination of AL Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to be United States AG by a widely-reviled, equally inept, conniving, one-term GOP POTUS. After Senate confirmation, Sessions’ term was equally short-lived (1 year 8 months 30 days, or 637 calendar days), after Sessions failed POTUS’ “fealty test,” and was unceremoniously fired.

Bentley’s scheme to avoid prosecution almost worked, because once in office, AG Marshall’s first order of business was to oust Miles M. “Matt” Hart, a tenacious former Federal Prosecutor who had rooted out corruption in Alabama’s Community College System, successfully indicted Jefferson County political schemers who conspired to undermine efforts at an EPA Superfund cleanup site on school playgrounds, and later, under AG Luther Strange’s purview, became the fearsome Director of Alabama’s Special Prosecutions Division which focused on investigating and prosecuting corruption in Alabama State government -and- had successfully prosecuted former GOP Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard on violating state felony ethics and corruption laws, which ironically, Hubbard and his GOP legislative cronies wrote.

Alabama Political Reporter stated the matter succinctly: “Most state lawmakers [were] happy to see [Matt Hart] go, since it removes a barrier to the quid pro quo style of governance that turned Alabama’s government into one of the most corrupt in the nation. Additionally, Alabama voters have proven to be far more concerned with party politics than rule of law and ethics.”

And with that hellhound gone, Bentley was almost home free… until audio recordings of his marital infidelities were “leaked” to the state press — evidence confirming what had long been suspected, that he’d used public resources to further that illicit relationship. Fortunately, Hart hung on long enough to obtain Bentley’s guilty plea, ouster from public office, and prohibition to ever hold any office of public trust ever again.

But during that time, Bentley’s “revamp” of the AL State Troopers’ office, and other state-level law enforcement agencies, included their placement under one “umbrella” agency, has not gone as smoothly as he, or others, might have hoped.

For example, annual “Crime in Alabama” reports by the ALEA, formerly regularly released annually in a professionally-presented, suitable-for-printing PDF file format, have essentially come to a screeching halt, and with it, all such public data pertinent to public safety and law enforcement — a comprehensive failure of a fundamental matter of public trust, responsibility, and accountability. That, even though the agency head, Secretary of Law Enforcement, Hal Taylor, wrote that the “report is intended to inform law enforcement officials and private citizens of criminal and law enforcement activity reported in county and municipal jurisdictions in Alabama.” It certainly seems like “what we’ve got here, is failure to communicate.”

And yet, in 2017, the last year for which data is available as a cohesively unified public record — interestingly, the length of a term in office, plus one year, of a governor, state senator, and representative — shows that even then, throughout the state, law enforcement agencies were grossly failing their fundamental tenets to protect the public by arresting offenders, solving crimes, and bringing swift justice for the offended victims.

To illustrate, in that report, the ALEA reported 159,032 TOTAL crimes in Alabama, but only 38,780 clearances, for a rate of 24.38%. In other words, 75.6% of ALL crimes in Alabama were unsolved.

Among the worst failure rates were in property crimes, with 135,060 incidences of burglary, larceny, and auto theft, with a mere 35,529 clearances, for a 73.69% failure rate.

To add insult to injury, of 23,972 violent crimes that year (rape, robbery, assault, homicide), only 9540 were cleared, which is a 60.2% failure rate. Similarly insulting, even unimaginable, is the state’s clearance rate of rape, which that year was 41.33%, or a failure rate of 58.66%.

Additional glaring indictment demonstrating systemic failure, or worse, is that, of all rapes, 78% were Black victims, 90% were female, while 50% of offenders were White, 46% Black, and 76% male. Those were the 4 caught out of 10 perpetrators.

To bring this into more excruciatingly detailed focus, there are but 12 CALEA accredited (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) law enforcement agencies statewide, and 8 in self-assessment for accreditation, though neither clearance rates for crimes committed in those jurisdictions, nor detailed statistics, were reported.

Why not?

So, it seems that the only question remaining to be asked, is “whose responsibility was it, and why was it abandoned?”

It’s been said that, accountability is all that remains once responsibility has fled.

The ones who are accountable are up for re-election in November, and almost all of them have an ‘R’ beside their name.

Bear that in mind when you enter the private polling booth to decide your, and the state’s, future.


NOTE:
“Crime in Alabama” is the title of an annual statistical report produced by the Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) at the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC). The report has been published annually since 1977. The Code of Alabama 1975, as amended, tasks the ACJIC with the duty of compiling and publishing annual statistics on the nature and extent of crime in Alabama.

Since 1977, ACJIC has administered the SAC, and has utilized crime-related data submitted components of the criminal justice system to conduct objective analyses of statewide policy issues.

The Alabama SAC also produces other special reports utilizing Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data, a program which was conceived in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to meet a need for reliable, uniform crime statistics for the nation. In 1930, the FBI was tasked with collecting, publishing, and archiving those statistics. The states, in response, by law, share that data with the FBI.

The last year for which Alabama published a complete set of data was 2017. The data and reports SHOULD be prepared annually.

It does NOT appear that they have been.
https://www.alea.gov/sbi/criminal-justice-services/alabama-crime-statistics

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