A recent law enforcement sweep resulted in more than 20 arrests on an array of felony charges in Birmingham, including burglary, assault, marijuana possession and weapons violations.
Alabama criminal defense lawyers understand many cases involve multiple charges, both misdemeanors and felonies. In this instance, there were additionally 12 arrests for misdemeanor offenses and more than 40 citations issued.
It was part of Operation Rescue, or Rapid Engagement Suppressing through Unified Enforcement – a well-publicized public relations campaign that the police have been putting on in an effort to drum up support for the Birmingham Police Department.
In fact, an earlier story in The Birmingham News quoted a spokesman for the department as saying that the whole point of the operation was to let the community know that officers are "there for them."
It sounds nice on paper, but the truth of the matter is, the police want to look good. They want to justify the taxpayer dollars they spend, and these operations are a good way for them to get some positive press.The photographs are blasted all over the front pages of The Birmingham News, and readers are encouraged to click through online galleries of the various busts.
Rarely do reporters follow these cases to conclusion to see the end result. A lot of times, particularly when police are conducting large-scale operations, the legality of certain aspects can be successfully challenged by an experienced attorney.
In some cases, there can be issues of entrapment that can arise. There is also the possibility that such operations can be discriminatory or that, due to the scale of it, police didn't ensure every arrest was proper.
In this particular bust, police identified a few noteworthy arrests, such as an individual who was allegedly collared with a pound of marijuana, as well as crack cocaine, a large amount of cash and a loaded weapon.
Another defendant reportedly admitted to being on his way to committing a burglary when police stopped him.
A previous operation involved cracking down on motorists who were either uninsured or lacked a license. In that case, officers established checkpoints and made multiple arrests.
Before that, officers set up shop on the west side, in the Central Park area, arresting nearly 40 people for a string of felonies, misdemeanors and outstanding warrants.
Overall crime in Birmingham has been on the upswing over the last decade. In 2009, the state ranked higher than the national average – by more than 13 percent – for violent crime. This year, it's expected to be even higher.
When you compare Birmingham to the rest of the state, law enforcement has calculated that the violent crime rate here is higher than the state average – by an astonishing 175 percent. For property crimes, it was more 110 percent higher than the state average.
What this also means, however, is that law enforcement officers have their hands full, and may not be properly carrying out every aspect of each arrest. It's going to be up to your defense attorney to ask the important questions about these issues, relevant to your case.
As to how long this operation is intended to go on, police have been vague. They say it could be a few days more, or could go on the rest of the summer.
If you end up being arrested in one of these crackdowns, you shouldn't feel pressured to simply plead guilty.
If you have been arrested, contact Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.