Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $77,001)
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. The Northern Division of the District includes five of the District’s 13 counties. These five counties are among those with the highest rates of poverty in the state. Alabama’s violent crime rate ticked down 2% in 2021 to 5.1 incidents per 1,000. 1 However, in 2021 Alabama was 38% higher than the national average in terms of the number of violent crimes per capita. The Mobile Police Department’s data for 2021 shows an increase of 18.7% in violent crime over 2020. The homicide rate in 2021 increased by 10.9%, although overall Part I Crime was down 6.6%. The most serious violent crime problems within the SDAL are repeat violent offenders and gang activity, primarily involving 18-24 year olds often claiming a Neighborhood Based Gangs (NBGs) or group affiliation based on family or geography. 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 an outsized impact on the communities in which they violate the law. 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. 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. To further this effort the city of Mobile has designated a Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator and initiated a diverse strategy to combat gun violence and its sources, dubbed Operation Echo Stop. The approach requires cooperation of law enforcement, community and civic leaders across the city. The USAO and PSN team work closely with MPD and the city to further the goals of this program.