To the Magic Citizens of Birmingham, Doesn't it make you wonder...why this City of (officially) 242,000, with 1.1 million in the Birmingham-Hoover Metro Area, is constantly showered with national coverage? The headlines in the New York Times and Time Magazine cover everything from our crime rate and our on-the-brink of county bankruptcy, to our almost ideal climate and weather, as well as the plethora of talent that originates from our City. We have something very special here in Birmingham. Our Number One resource is our people - the amazing, most generous in the nation, whole lotta heart people living here! People who are not afraid to get involved...see our articles this month on Hand In Paw, and Better Basics...and people who roll up their sleeves and take on everything from global warming and recycling to caring for those in need. We have an excellent police department; our city workers truly care; and we have the added advantage of one of only two CAP organizations in the state. What we need now is to step up, and make the call on crime. The police will work with you. Call 911 for all emergencies. If you explain that there is a crime in progress, you are in fear for your life, your message is prioritized and dispatched. Also, the police will not come to your door if you request that they not, keeping you anonymous if you prefer. MagicCityMoments is all about what's great in Birmingham. However, we are not blind to problems that plague every city. Let's stop reacting, and realize - It IS our call. Read on for the message from Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of CAP:
IT’S YOUR CALL Teresa Thorne, Executive Director City Action Partnership www.CAPisDowntown.com
Our city has awesome potential. It is heartbreaking that we must struggle to realize it against the cancer of crime that threatens our growth and health. The power to stop its spread, however, is in our hands. If even half of those who have knowledge about a crime would report it, we could liberate ourselves and our communities.
Why don’t people report information about crime? There are two answers: Peer pressure and fear. Fear of speaking up is understandable. Pointing a finger at a community on the other side of town is not the same as pointing at the drug house next door. The latter carries a risk, the risk that your neighbor will learn you were the person who reported them.
Still, isn’t the risk justifiable when the failure to take it means the ultimate capitulation of everyone’s safety, the deterioration of your world? It is the very neighborhoods which bear the risk of retaliation that are most likely to see their neighborhood destroyed.
CAP is partnering with the community and other organizations to motivate and empower people to safely report crime. Those partners include Crime Stoppers, the Chamber of Commerce, FBI, the City of Birmingham, Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni, Association, and many more.
The focus is on youth because they know a lot about what is happening. Also, they are often vulnerable to the fear and peer pressure of a “don’t snitch” culture. It is natural for youth to band together against perceived authority. It is also to be expected that a culture which has learned to survive by avoiding police has trouble finding the trust to make them partners. How can we challenge and empower people to do that?
We can lay the case at their feet, at your feet, because it is everyone’s responsibility. This is the message: “It’s Your Call. It’s Your World.” You will reap what you sow and what you fail to stop others from sowing. It is your neighborhood, your friend, your brother, your mother, your sister…your child who will pay the price for your silence.
We can also offer this—a way to make the call anonymous, guaranteed. No phone traces, no tricks, no police coming to your house, no court. You never give your name or any information about yourself, only a code number. Anyone can make the call or go online through a secure coded system. But ultimately, it is your call. You have to make the decision because, “It’s your world.”