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Montgomery residents concerned over spike in violent crime

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Violent crime is on the rise across America, and the city of Montgomery is following in line with the nations trend.

So far in 2021, the Montgomery Police Department is investigating 27 homicides, an increase from the 20 homicides seen this same time last year.

In eight days, at least 14 people were shot in the city. Seven of those victims were shot in a single night at a local gas station. Two Montgomery Police Officers are also among those shot, responding to a shooting scene in North Montgomery.

“I’ve been here maybe eight years now and never seen it worse out here like this, never,” said Montgomery resident Tony Walker.

Walker lives in an apartment off of Park Towne Way on the southside of Montgomery. A man was shot and killed in the neighborhood on May 6. It’s the third homicide to occur in the community in that past three years.

“I’m afraid for the kids,” Walker said. “One day they getting off the bus going home, something might happen to them, and we got another child we have to bury.”

Montgomery City Councilmen Oronde Mitchell, who represents the neighborhood and District 6, says he and other city councilmembers have been working to address the uptick in violent crime.

“Montgomery is in a state of panic right now,” Mitchell said. “Montgomery is scared of what’s going on, and as a city official we must do something about it right now.”

“Our rate of crime has probably risen within the last two years when I first came in. We have a lot of homicides, we have a lot of robberies, so we are doing everything to combat that. I have put cameras up in some of my neighborhoods that was ravaged with crime and we also doing off duty police officers and private security companies to combat some of the things that we are seeing the in the city of Montgomery right now,” Mitchell said.

Chief Ernest Finley says the first step is having more police in every community and using their resources to keep criminals off the streets.

“We are going to be out there making a difference. We are going to be out there being seen,” Finley said at a press conference Tuesday. “We may get some complaints as far as why we in these communities based on data based on these complaints. We’re not over policing in a community. We are gonna be out in these communities as long as we need to be to change that behavior out there.”

The rise in crime is not just happening in Montgomery. A study released by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice and Arnold Ventures found a 30% spike in homicides across 34 American cities in 2020 compared to 2019. The study suggests that the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice unrest were factors.

Those who are fed up with violence in Montgomery say they are ready to see a change.

“I really believe if somebody put in effort and come into the community and help, it’ll change,” Walker said. “It’s got to get to a point where we have to stop this we really do, we are killing ourselves. It’s bad enough the pandemic doing it, but we have been killing ourselves and we’ve got to stop it.”

Out of the total 27 homicides in Montgomery in 2021, 19 arrests have been made, resulting in a 70% solvability rate. MPD’s solvability rate is the same as last year’s numbers at this time despite the increase.

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