As candidates for Montgomery’s mayor and city council races traverse their districts and speak to their constituents, the topic of crime is usually the first topic that comes up.
With the nation watching a weekend of gun violence in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, Montgomery had its own problems with gun violence. Beginning Friday deadly shooting at 3400 Rosa L. Parks Avenue took the life of 40-year old Derrick Blount, whose body was later discovered on Mobile Highway. Also on Friday a shooting in the 3800 block of Edgar D. Nixon Avenue leaft a man seriously injured. During the day on Saturday several dozen shots rang out in the Cloverdale area leaving residents and shoppers rattled. There were no injuries reported in the Cloverdale shooting but a number of cars were damaged by gunfire. Later on Saturday night three people were left with non-life threatening gunshot wounds after a shooting near Maxwell Air Force Base.
Former congressman Artur Davis says that he is the candidate with the vision to stop Montgomery’s serious crime problems including support for so-called “red flag” laws, already adopted in some states, and championed on Monday by President Donald Trump in his response to the Texas and Ohio shootings.
“Another violent night in Montgomery: a homicide in my old neighborhood in Ridgecrest, an apparent gunfight in Cloverdale near the 5 Points Area where Tara and I enjoy visiting restaurants.
“Interesting that some candidates who are spending their ad dollars making empty promises to raise teacher’s pay are putting on their crime-fighting hat on social media today. Generalities won’t cut it. I’ve outlined plans since the first week of my candidacy: A substantial increase in our police force; a zero tolerance policy for the gang presence in schools and neighborhoods; reinvestment in shot-spotter technology; an instant alert app to warn communities of violence in their neighborhood in real time; a community wide effort to rescue at-risk juveniles; full support for red flag laws that allow citizens and law enforcement to petition courts to take guns from persons who pose an imminent threat of harm. The right mayor can make a difference,” Davis said.
Candidate Ed Crowell, a retired general, said the problem of gun violence is growing and said it will take effort on behalf of residents to help bring the problem under control.
“What happened in Cloverdale yesterday is becoming far too often of an occurrence in our city. I am tired of the violence, reckless behavior, and down right disrespect for the city we call home. It’s time we come together as a city. It’s time we use our resources to better fight crime. It’s time we give the people of this great city the opportunity to succeed without the threat of crime following them. We need a leader who can bring members of every community to the table and find real solutions who will make our city safe alongside those who protect us in uniform. I’m ready to see our city move forward,” Crowell said.
Candidate and County Commission Chairman Elton Dean thanked the MPD and appealed to parents and grandparents to try and intervene with their young children before it gets to the point that firearms are used.
“I want to thank the MPD for their prompt response to the shooting in Old Cloverdale last night,” Dean said
“We are fortunate that nobody was seriously injured but enough is enough. When families eating at restaurants at 7pm have to flee gunfire, we have reached a critical point in our community.
“I am begging parents and grandparents to sit down with the young people in your lives and begin parenting again. Teach these young people right from wrong. Restore discipline and Jesus in your households. If you don't fix the problem in your house, you will be begging an attorney to fix the problem when someone you love is in handcuffs at the courthouse, or worse, lying in the morgue.
“No mayor or city council can fix this. This starts at home,” Dean added.
Similarly candidate David Woods says there is only so much government officials can do and appealed for family values to return to the forefront.
“The senseless violence that happened in Montgomery this weekend is heartbreaking. The crime statistics in our city are unacceptable and so is the fear of the people that are affected by crime. We can take practical steps to make our communities safer and bring the return to law and order our city desperately needs, including increasing patrols, building a precinct in every part of the city to reduce response time, and ensuring our brave officers have the resources they need to effectively serve and protect Montgomery.
“However, at the end of the day, government officials and advocacy groups have their hands full in solving our crime issues. We desperately need a return to the family values that made Montgomery strong and fathers need to instill those values in their children.,” Wood said.
Candidate JC Love said that if elected he will call on State leaders including Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and ALEA director Hal Taylor to help leverage resources to fight the problem.
“What Happened in Cloverdale Saturday night is unacceptable. If I’m elected I’ll ask some of our statewide elected officials who live in Montgomery, such as Gov. Ivey, Attorney General Marshal and ALEA director Hal Taylor, along with the police chief, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham and DA Daryl Bailey, and our local judges to form a criminal behavior intervention planning committee to maximize our resources and Marshall our manpower into making sure that events like last night’s shooting don’t happen in any of Montgomery’s neighborhoods. This is unacceptable and we need all hands on deck to get our hands around this problem — and while everyone is rightfully worried about our city when a shooting happens in a popular entertainment district, another incident ended in the death of a man off Mobile highway. Both are tragedies and both need the full force of our efforts to be stopped,” Love said.
Several readers also provided commentary and some excellent suggestions.
City Council Candidate Clay McInnis said, “Most of you have heard about the shoot-out that occurred in the Woodley Road/Five Points area of Cloverdale last night around 7 PM. An otherwise quiet Saturday night in the neighborhood was disrupted by semi-automatic weapons fire, leaving many longtime residents to fear for the safety of their families. Bystanders have reported running and diving for cover in nearby establishments. This incident is incredibly serious and the individuals involved must be held fully accountable by law enforcement.
“I believe in the goodness of the people of this city and we will not be deterred by those who wish to wreak havoc in our streets. We must work together to make all of our neighborhoods more safe and secure. Crime is a problem that can’t be traced to any one factor, but if we are not open to exploring new solutions our citizens will continue to struggle with security and peace of mind.”
Reader Ashley Dozier Adams said: “Has anyone ever asked those arrested or those who pick up these guns why gun violence has become the norm? I think if we can start asking those that turn to shooting of why then maybe we can start there?? What's the root of the problem - we have to find out the reason to find the solution.”
Reader Jackie Waller said: “What I want to hear most is actual ideas and possible solutions from these candidates. Not just lip service talking points about getting tough on crime. Anyone can say they will be tough. I want specifics on how they will achieve it...and don’t use money as an excuse.”
County Commissioner Ronda Walker said: “Dig into why violent offenders are back on the streets way too quickly. So quickly (at times) the fear of punishment is nonexistent.”
Reader George Howell said: “I think if we brought the problem ‘home,’ it might help through public identification and maybe public shaming. This is what I would do: Identify the perpetrator by full name, address (wherever they stay) and the name of the church (with pastor's name) closest to them, name and address of both parents and/or the person(s) who raised them, and the name of the City Council and County Commission members whose districts hold the perpetrator's address. We could also identify the district attorneys and judges who handle their cases. That would take some research by media people. Why do all that?
“Just to show what "community" the bad folks spring from, and who might have had a hand in making them the way they are today. Maybe if people who could help saw their name associated with bad folks, people might help the bad folks more,” said Howell.
Reader Mike Foxhall said: “Mental health reforms, improve education, and fill the vacant positions on the police force. That would be a good start.”
Reader Dr. Brad Moody said: “We must first recognize that this problem did not appear over night and will not be solved over night. I wish there were some constitutional means of determining whether those who possess guns have them lawfully without engaging in racial profiling or running afoul of the 4th amendment. Bail, sentencing, and parole practices and laws should be examined maybe by comparing judges and jurisdictions. And all of us should live out our rhetoric. Don’t preach calm and nonviolence and then turn around and verbally assault family members and those in service positions. A much stronger mental health system is badly needed. And schools and law enforcement organizations and personnel. We could start by paying and respecting teachers and police officers more. AND PAY MORE TAXES.”