Archive for the ‘Bessemer Police’ Category

>Goings on in Bessemer

June 30, 2009

>Today, if you live in Bessemer and nearby areas of Senate district 19, you need to vote. Polls are open until 7:00. The Western Tribune has endorsed Priscilla Dunn, who has been voted legislator of the year twice (even her opponent voted for her).

Tonight, at 6:30, Mayor Ed May will hold his last (thank God) Town Hall Meeting at the Bessemer Civic Center. (I will probably be late, as I have another event with Earl Hilliard, Jr. to attend).

Congratulations to the Bessemer Police Department. Yesterday, they dedicated the new South side Police Substation (first suggested on Bessemer Opinions on June 26, 2007) and today they dedicate the new E-911 Center. Both of these facilities were paid for with drug money confiscated by the department. That’s putting the money to good use. Both of these facilities will contribute to greater public safety, which is needed here.

Neighborhoodscout.com ranks Bessemer as the 9th most dangerous city in America. This was reported by The Western Tribune last week, and comes as a surprise even to those of us who are concerned about the crime rates.

The Mayor and Police chief need to pow-wow and come up with a new strategy to overcome this. The strategy should include informing the public through the Newspapers and through a direct mailing or door to door canvassing that crime is NOT going to be tolerated, and that this includes big crime and little crime. Then, we need to see cops on the beat out of their cars and walking the neighborhoods, because when you walk you can see so much more than when you are driving by (keeping your eyes on the road).

All we want is a safer city. We are not ashamed of our city, as the mayor claimed when we asked about public safety issues. But 9th in the nation? That’s something to be ashamed of.

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>Crime Stats

June 18, 2009

>I want to modify my earlier post. I don’t have any direct evidence that the Bessemer Police Department is either homophobic or racist. But I do detect a lack of sensitivity or concern. Of course, this may just be perception, a term thrown around a lot recently.

But crime statistics are not perception.

The Mayor, and the Chief of Police, both have spoken of the reduced crime rates as evidence that public safety is not to be a concern. A little research led to this info. All of the information is available at the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center web site.

The Mayor said, at the Town Hall Meeting on Dartmouth Avenue, to compare current crime rates with past rates. He was elected in 2002, but, oddly enough, Bessemer did not report its crimes to the state that year, or the year before or the year after. Hmmm. That in itself is worth investigation.

So, let’s compare to 2000, the last year before the mayor was elected that we have stats for, to 2008, the last year for which statistics are available. We actually went back to 1991, just for fun, but for our comparison, we use 2000. Handy little chart for the crimes that the state keep stats on…

Between 2000 and 2008 Homicide, Assaults and Theft are down. Those are the good stats.

But Rape (21 up to 27), Robbery (174 to 193), Burglary (802 to 1046) and Motor Vehicle Theft (234 to 278) are up from 2000 to 2008.

If you start at 2004, the first year after the election of the current mayor that we have statistics for, we find that Murder, Rape, Assault, Burglary and Theft are all up in 2008, and the other two categories, Robbery and Motor Vehicle theft are down by just 4 and 2 respectively.

So let’s not brag too much about decreased crime rates.

But when a guy that’s had a couple of semesters of statistics and has a degree in a field that requires a whole bunch of statistics gets on a site with so much information, a little deeper digging is bound to occur.

It did. But you will be held in suspense because it’s I’m still working on it. You will probably see it in my column next week in the Western Tribune.

Here is Corey John, of Toronto (where gays can marry), who was assaulted this month.

“My back was turned, I did not see him coming and he hit me with a beer bottle,” says John. “I just felt the blood gushing down my face, [said] ‘You hit me, dude,’ and they all began running up an alley.”

(Again, thanks to Andy Towle for the link.)

>Hate Crimes

June 17, 2009

>Update: Please read this post where I modify what I said in this one.

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column, which follows this post. It is on a related subject.

While I am pleased that a Federal Hate Crimes bill including sexual orientation might soon become a reality, down here in the real world things are not so encouraging. The images you will see here are disturbing, and let’s be glad that they don’t come from Bessemer. But let’s not wait until one of our friends is pictured in this way (or worse) before we do something about it.

I am really concerned about my community. For the most part, a community can only be as strong as its leaders. That is unfortunate when the leaders are complacent about crime after two home invasions, both targeting minorities. You may get tired of reading about this, but until the Mayor of Bessemer (Ed May) and the Bessemer Police Department (led by chief Nathaniel Rutledge) realize that the white people and the gay people and the Hispanic people deserve the same protections and respect as the rest of the residents, I will keep the conversation going.

This is Ronnie Robertson, a 31 year old man from Ohio who was attacked last month after answering a question (“a mix of gay and straight people chose Tabby’s to play sand volleyball – but were harassed by a man who continued to ask who in the group was gay and who wasn’t & her brother finally answered. ‘When he admitted that he was, they lost it, went crazy and started attacking my brother and pushing him out of the bar.”)

From what I heard last night, had this crime occured in Bessemer, it would not have been investigated. The victim would have been called a liar by the police. The victim would have been accused by the Mayor of being friends with his attackers. The police department would be criticized by other law enforcement agencies for ignoring the evidence and turning a blind eye.

This is Eric Patten, a 20 year old man “charged with assaulting two young gay women in Provincetown,” last month.

While he is the one charged, he obviously picked the wrong lesbians to attack.

“At around 1:08 a.m. Saturday morning in Provincetown pedestrians alerted police to a fight on Commercial Street at the Post Office Café, an eatery in the center of town. Police saw Patten punching a woman on the ground, according to police Sgt. Carrie Lopes. The victim was one of two women, ages 22 and 23, who were allegedly assaulted by Patten. He is accused of punching one of the women with his right fist and calling the two women “faggots,” thinking they were gay men.”

Had this attack occurred in Bessemer, I do not have confidence that an arrest would have been made. If a report was even filed, it might have said “criminal mischief” or some such bull crap.

The Mayor and Chief cite statistics that crime is down. But their statistics are based on reporting. And when a man’s door is broken in an attempt to gain entry, something more than “criminal mischief” has occurred.

This is Lance Neve, who in March, 2008 was assaulted in Rochester, NY


“According to Ogden police, Lance Neve, 26, was with his partner, Osbert Maldonado, 28, of Rochester, and another friend at Snuggery’s Bar in Spencerport the night of March 7. They allegedly were subjected to derogatory comments throughout the night from Jesse D. Parsons, 24, of Spencerport. About 1 a.m. on March 8, Parsons apparently asked to shake Neve’s hand because he had never shaken a gay man’s hand, said Ogden police Investigator Scott Okolowicz. Neve refused, and Parsons then allegedly grabbed Neve and beat him up. When police arrived, Neve was unconscious. He was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a fractured skull, nose, left eye socket and upper jaw bone and blood on the brain, Okolowicz said.”

His attacker got 5 1/2 years and has to pay over $24,000 in medical expenses. Had this attack occured here, Neve probably would have been out of luck. I say that, because there are indications that while individual police officers are fine men and women, the Police Department has an undercurrent (or tidal wave) of homophobia.

It will take more than a statement from the Chief to counter this. Evidence of qualified diversity training which includes sexual orientation and evidence of a policy which shows respect toward the LGBT community might do it.

h/t to Andy Towle at Towleroad for the pictures and quotes.

Bessemer Police Business and David Cook!

April 16, 2008

So here is what we learned at the Bessemer Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night.

Sgt. Carmicheal from the Community Service Division of the Bessemer Police Department spoke and addressed concerns of those present.

For speeding and recklessness. Sgt. Brooks is over the traffic division, and he said to call him on his cell phone when you see speeding. 205-229-2793. Tell him the location, the make of the car and the tag number if you can get it without endangering yourself. In addition, if they get enough complaints about an area they will do traffic stops or DUI checks which often drive motorists to take different routes.

As for the noise ordinance, which covers not only stereos but screaming motorcycles as well, the ordinance is in force. Decible meters are being acquired (yawn…I’ve heard this for months, years). To report these, call dispatch at 205-425-2411. (Don’t call 911 for noise). Be specific in your report, whether the noise is coming from a house, or a car, describe the car and get the tag, without the person knowing it if possible.

If you don’t feel that your call is getting a response (like if you don’t see a cop within a few minutes) call again, and ask for the officer over that shift. During the day, Sgt. J. J. Pierson, during the evening, from 2:45 to 10:45, Sgt. Fred Littlepage, and during the night shift, from 10:45 to 6:45 AM, Sgt. Ray Hubbart. Sorry officers if I misspelled you name.

Everyone realizes that a speeding car or a rocking car will be long gone before an officer gets there. But the police might “hunt them down”, or keep a watch out for the car that is described. And again, enough compaints from an area will lead to roadblocks…an inconvenience, no doubt, but worth it to slow down traffic. Just be sure you have your insurance card and license with you.

We should also realize that the cops can’t be everywhere and see everything. So they depend on us to call these things in.

But they should realize that we depend on them as well, like to arrest people who have stolen cars being dis-assembled in their backyards. If they won’t arrest that individual, do we really thnk they are going to give a hoot about Nas (otherwise known as Nasir Jones) blaring Ether out of a car:

“Ay, yo, pass me the weed,
Pour my ashes out on these niggas man,
(No doubt)
Ay, y’all faggots, y’all kneel,
And kiss the f***king ring”

It gets worse. But that gives you an idea.

That is the kind of noise we hear as the windows are rattling. It is offensive to people of color, to gay people, to decent people who do not appreciate profanity and slurs being thrust into our dens such that we can not even hear the sweet sounds of American Idle, I mean Idol. And if I really watched and cared and voted, David Cook would get my vote. Randy, Paula and Simon seemed to like him as well.

The Bessemer Police Department holds public safety meetings the first Monday of every month at a different location. These meetings are open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. Heads of divisions are there to answer questions. Crime statistics are given out, with comparisons to previous months. Notification of these meetings has been a problem, sometimes they use flyers, sometimes they are announced in the local papers. The BPD is trying to determine the best way to let people know about the locations. I will try to become aware of these and post them as well.

>Bessemer Police Business and David Cook!

April 16, 2008

>So here is what we learned at the Bessemer Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night.

Sgt. Carmicheal from the Community Service Division of the Bessemer Police Department spoke and addressed concerns of those present.

For speeding and recklessness. Sgt. Brooks is over the traffic division, and he said to call him on his cell phone when you see speeding. 205-229-2793. Tell him the location, the make of the car and the tag number if you can get it without endangering yourself. In addition, if they get enough complaints about an area they will do traffic stops or DUI checks which often drive motorists to take different routes.

As for the noise ordinance, which covers not only stereos but screaming motorcycles as well, the ordinance is in force. Decible meters are being acquired (yawn…I’ve heard this for months, years). To report these, call dispatch at 205-425-2411. (Don’t call 911 for noise). Be specific in your report, whether the noise is coming from a house, or a car, describe the car and get the tag, without the person knowing it if possible.

If you don’t feel that your call is getting a response (like if you don’t see a cop within a few minutes) call again, and ask for the officer over that shift. During the day, Sgt. J. J. Pierson, during the evening, from 2:45 to 10:45, Sgt. Fred Littlepage, and during the night shift, from 10:45 to 6:45 AM, Sgt. Ray Hubbart. Sorry officers if I misspelled you name.

Everyone realizes that a speeding car or a rocking car will be long gone before an officer gets there. But the police might “hunt them down”, or keep a watch out for the car that is described. And again, enough compaints from an area will lead to roadblocks…an inconvenience, no doubt, but worth it to slow down traffic. Just be sure you have your insurance card and license with you.

We should also realize that the cops can’t be everywhere and see everything. So they depend on us to call these things in.

But they should realize that we depend on them as well, like to arrest people who have stolen cars being dis-assembled in their backyards. If they won’t arrest that individual, do we really thnk they are going to give a hoot about Nas (otherwise known as Nasir Jones) blaring Ether out of a car:

“Ay, yo, pass me the weed,
Pour my ashes out on these niggas man,
(No doubt)
Ay, y’all faggots, y’all kneel,
And kiss the f***king ring”

It gets worse. But that gives you an idea.

That is the kind of noise we hear as the windows are rattling. It is offensive to people of color, to gay people, to decent people who do not appreciate profanity and slurs being thrust into our dens such that we can not even hear the sweet sounds of American Idle, I mean Idol. And if I really watched and cared and voted, David Cook would get my vote. Randy, Paula and Simon seemed to like him as well.

The Bessemer Police Department holds public safety meetings the first Monday of every month at a different location. These meetings are open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. Heads of divisions are there to answer questions. Crime statistics are given out, with comparisons to previous months. Notification of these meetings has been a problem, sometimes they use flyers, sometimes they are announced in the local papers. The BPD is trying to determine the best way to let people know about the locations. I will try to become aware of these and post them as well.