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Just on the 8th: Montgomery crime statistics show a drastic increase in property crimes in 2024

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A shortage of police officers and rising crime continue to be a concern for Montgomery residents. According to new statistics from the State Trauma Registry, 203 gunshot wounds were treated in Montgomery emergency rooms from January through the end of May. Now, Action 8 News has obtained data showing that property crimes such as car break-ins, robberies and burglaries are also on the rise. Andrew Szymanski says, “I left my car at my job at Hilltop this weekend and it was broken into. We've never had a problem there. It's not just here and there, it's everywhere and it's something we can't ignore.”

7th Ward Councilman Andrew Szymanski says he has seen the rising crime in Montgomery firsthand and wants to do something about it. Andrew says, “One of the things I hope to see happen is that we pass compensation packages that will help recruit and retain police officers and that we will make sure we get the best possible police chief for the moment to give the department the leadership it needs. I'm glad to see people come to City Hall. I think that's very important and it holds the aldermen and the mayor's office accountable to what the people want.” FOP President Everette Johnson says, “I'm hearing from a lot of people who are obviously unhappy. They're overworked, understaffed and police officers are leaving the city in tremendous numbers and we're averaging at least two or three (per week). “They may take jobs that pay less, but because of the environment and culture of this agency, they are willing to take a pay cut to get to a better situation where they feel supported not only by their community but also by the administration.”

Everette Johnson worked for the Montgomery Police Department for 20 years and is president of the Capitol City chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. “I think the challenge with hiring is that it takes so long. My understanding is that a lot of agencies outside of Montgomery hire from Montgomery because it allows them to do the interview process quicker and more efficiently and get the officers into those other agencies,” Johnson says. According to MPD internal statistics provided to Action 8 News, as of May 25, there were seven fewer homicides than last year, but crime in seven other categories is up. There have been 150 people robbed this year, compared to 81 in 2023. Store robberies are up a whopping 180% compared to the same period last year, and store burglaries are up 35%. Auto break-ins are up nearly 36%, and 118 more cars have been stolen in Capitol City this year than in the same period last year. Everette Johnson says, “The starting salary for police officers at the MPD is $47,000, which is good money, but for firefighters it's $52,000. Why isn't the life of a police officer on duty as valuable as that of a firefighter? At least bring their starting salaries up to par.” Currently, there are 290 police officers in Montgomery, but only 260 are authorized to patrol the streets. 490 is the number of police officers a city the size of Montgomery should have.

Regarding the search for the new police chief, a spokesperson for Mayor Steven Reed's office issued a statement saying, “Chief John Hall will continue to serve as acting police chief until an interim chief is in place. Additional details regarding the search will be announced shortly.” Police Chief Darryl Albert resigned from the Montgomery Police Department on April 18, 2024.