Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $82,915)
The Southern District of Alabama is made up of the 13 counties located in the southwest corner of the state. The majority of the District consists of rural areas which encompass small municipalities. Mobile, the District’s largest population center, is at the intersection of two major north-south and east-west interstates I-65 and I-10, and is a 30 minute drive to Mississippi or Florida.
Alabama’s violent crime rate dipped 2% from 5.2 incidents per 1,000 in 2020 to 5.1 this year. Even so Alabama is 38% higher than the national average when it comes to the number of violent crimes per capita. Despite higher overall crime rates, both violent and property crimes decreased year over year in Alabama. The Mobile Police Department’s data for 2020 shows a small uptick of 1.3% in violent crime over 2019. However, the homicide rate which had increased in 2019 by a substantial 42.9% over the previous year, increased in 2020 by 15% over 2019.
The most serious violent crime problems within the SDAL are repeat violent offenders and gang activity, primarily in the form of Neighborhood Based Gangs (NBGs) or individuals/small groups claiming gang (familial or territorial) affiliation. Repeat offenders pose a special challenge in the smaller communities of the District. In these areas the ongoing criminal activity and violence perpetrated by a repeat offender is impactful on the entire community. In many instances repeat offenders throughout the District revolved through the state system (several times), and their continued criminal activity has a significant impact on the communities in which they violate the law.
Amidst the NBG activity in Selma/Dallas County, drug activity is pervasive. Along with this ongoing drug activity comes the usual attendant violence between rival “gangs”. The same type of NBG violent crime activity has also been identified in specific hot-spot areas of the city of Mobile. An ongoing focus of PSN efforts also involves identifying, locating and intervening with participants (14-24 years old) in acts of random firearm violence which take place on a recurring basis.
Neighborhood based gangs, and the attendant violent criminal activity, will likely remain a significant threat in the District despite law enforcement’s continual efforts to dismantle them. NBGs rapidly changing affiliations and their migration into new communities will continue to make it difficult for law enforcement to mitigate the threats posed by NBGs. NBGs located in hot-spots and/or financially depressed areas in the District will continue to be detrimental to community residents, especially for the impressionable young adults who are susceptible to gang recruitment.