Chief Barber: 5th Precinct is not needed

Mobile’s police chief outlined his plan Tuesday to streamline his department to save money. It’s a plan that includes closing a precinct.

Chief James Barber will receive about six million dollars less under the amended budget approved by the city council earlier this year. Barber explained to the city council public safety committee how he intends to handle the cuts without diminishing the effectiveness of his force.

Right now there are five police precincts in Mobile. But, by the end of the month there will be only four. Precinct Five, which is the newest in the department will be eliminated. Barber says the general public probably won’t notice any difference, because another precinct will move into the new public safety complex on airport blvd.  Right now, precincts two and four are housed in the same building.

“The facility is not being closed. The facility is being renamed precinct 4 so we’re reorganizing is what we’re doing into a four precincts instead of five, so the facility will continue to operate, and the facility is indeed our newest facility,” Barber said.

Barber outlined his plan for during the public safety committee and city council members Tuesday. He said the fifth precinct is responsible for 65 square miles, but only 12 are in the city limits.

Barber said roll call is taken at the precincts, but officers actually respond to calls from the streets not the precinct buildings.

The chief also gave council members an update on the departments efforts to target crime hot spots. He said the goal of recent raids like the one last week is not just large scale arrests. He said it’s to disrupt the demand and the supply of drugs.

“The fact that we ended up making 70 arrests up on the north side last week is pretty evident to me of the problems that some of out communities faces. And lot of those being crack cocaine or even spice related type street activity. So until we get a different result when we go in we will completely continue to do what we’re doing,” Barber explained

Richard Hasan is involved with his community watch group in the Maysville Community. He agrees with the chief about the importance of neighbors getting involved in making their communities safe.

“We strategized on one of our blocks on how to take it back. And the citizens have to take back their blocks so he has the right idea,” Hasan said.

Chief barber said the changes within the department will go into effect June 18th.

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