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Birmingham cordons off streets in neighborhood as shootings rise

Safe Streets is a strategic safety initiative that will limit the number of entry and exit points within a given perimeter of homes, schools and businesses, as well as add various traffic calming measures at intersections and implement concerted efforts to eliminate inclement weather. (Adobe Stock)

Times Staff Report

An average of about six shots per day or more than 2,000 shots will be fired through 2023 in the East Lake neighborhood, Mayor Randall Woodfin told Birmingham City Council on Tuesday.

Shotspotter, a gunshot detection system that uses sensors to alert law enforcement about shooting incidents in real time, recorded a total of 2,164 shots fired in the neighborhood, the mayor said.

“That is unacceptable,” he told the council.

Woodfin recently announced the Safe Streets Initiative, a pilot plan to close off access to streets to limit drivers from entering the East Lake neighborhood to shoot at homes and cars, a neighborhood with increasing drug, prostitution and shooting activity, according to the city.

“We will continue our aggressive surveillance,” Woodfin said. “We will continue to focus
“On gun violence across the city.”

Woodfin stressed that the focus is only on the East Lake neighborhood, not the entire East Lake community that includes South East Lake, North East Lake and Wahouma.

But the emphasis on the East Lake neighborhood is a step in the direction of reducing
“I think we can reduce gun violence in this neighborhood,” Woodfin said.

According to city officials, the goal is to cordon off neighborhood streets to
reduce the number of entry and exit points in the neighborhood with the
The goal is to help prevent drive-by shootings and perpetrators who try to evade them.
law enforcement due to the limited number of accessible streets.

On Monday, the city began placing barriers on streets. “It’s not just about
“Keeping crime at bay,” the mayor said. “In addition to reducing crime, in addition to reducing day walkers and prostitution, in addition to cleaning up the alleys,
By drying up the trap houses and the drug houses, we also want to sow hope.
Residents deserve to live in peace, walk freely on their sidewalks and allow their
“The children go outside to play.”

Because of the area’s numerous entry and exit points, the neighborhood of seniors and young families has been vulnerable to perpetrators who can enter and commit crimes with multiple escape routes, according to city officials.

The installation of traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and signs is intended to deter speeding vehicles and drive-by shootings. Alleyways that allow criminals easy access to the rear of homes will be secured. Derelict properties that have been a breeding ground for criminal activity have been marked and will be tackled vigorously.

In preparation for the pilot project, more than 800 homes were visited, as well as five churches and several businesses. 350 residents responded to a survey, and nearly 90 percent of them supported the initiative. Woodfin presented the plan at East Lake Neighborhood Association meetings and also held a special town hall meeting at New Rising Star Church.

While barriers were placed on the streets and closures began Monday, temporary safety barriers will be placed in front of the graffiti for two weeks and the temporary safety barriers will be removed and vegetation will be added to beautify the graffiti in late July. The pilot program will be evaluated in October to determine next steps.

For more information about Safe Streets, visit www.birminghamal.gov/safestreets.