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U.S. Attorneys say Project Safe Neighborhoods is making Alabama safer

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, Alabama’s three U.S. Attorneys released a statement detailing their efforts over the last year to combat Alabama’s violent crime problem.

One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Federal authorities have partnered with all levels of law enforcement, local organizations, and members of the community to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs. I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face. Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives, and restore safety to our communities.”

“In late 2017, Montgomery needed help,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Louis V. Franklin Sr said. “Too many people were illegally carrying guns, too many people were being shot, too many people were living in fear. PSN was the perfect program to help Montgomery. So, we joined with our federal, state and local partners and focused on the worst of the worst violent criminals in Montgomery. We had a goal to reduce violent crime in Montgomery, and we saw results. By May of 2018, we saw an almost 16 percent decline in violent crime in Montgomery. This PSN partnership will continue to see Montgomery through this violent crime crisis. We have an obligation to our community and we will fulfill that obligation.”

“Because of PSN and the leadership of our Attorney General, never before have our law enforcement partnerships been so robust,” stated U.S. for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town. “Never before have we prosecuted so many defendants, especially violent criminals, in federal court, where sentences do not suffer the sanctuary of parole. Never before has there been the commitment to resources by the Department of Justice at every level of law enforcement to aggressively address violent crime. Federal prison beds are being filled by our worst offenders, and our neighborhoods are safer than ever before.”

“Most Alabamians are benefiting from a much safer Alabama as a direct result of the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Richard W. Moore. “Law enforcement officers have been empowered to do what they do best and the violent crime rate in many of our communities is going down. Aggressive efforts to take the “trigger pullers” who terrorize neighborhoods off the street makes sense and makes Alabama a safer place to live. Violent crime rates, however, are still too high and we are not resting on the good results that we have seen over the past two years. The American people have been clear about their desire to have a safer country. We are starting to deliver on the promise that President Trump made to make that a reality.”

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The Justice Department said in their statement that as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the revitalized PSN program, here are some of the highlights of our PSN actions over the past year:

Federal, state, and local agencies tackled the violent crime problem in Montgomery by vigorously pursuing illegal firearm prosecutions. From January to April of 2018, the USAO concentrated on indicting Montgomery firearm cases.

Additionally, Operation Triple Beam Operation Triple Beam was led by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force and focused on street level crime, gang-related crime, undercover narcotics operations, traffic stop enforcement, and a warrant service in identified high-crime districts. kicked off and saturated law enforcement in those areas in Montgomery with the largest number of shootings. As a result of these partnerships and the re-invigorated PSN program, in May of this year the violent crime rate dropped in Montgomery by almost 16 percent.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District has formed an array of task forces and partnerships that have seen impressive results. The Northern District office has formed Public Safety Task Forces in Huntsville and Birmingham, both designed to target the worst offenders and repeat offenders who have besieged those cities. The office also formed the Prosecutor-to-Prosecutor Program, or “P3”, where District Attorneys from around the Northern District are given training and direct lines of communication to federal prosecutors so that state charges can be removed to federal court where the sentence does not suffer the sanction of parole. We have dramatically increased our federal presence in every community, every county, and every corner of the Northern District.

This summer, a three-month operation focused on reducing violent crime in Selma and the Gulf Coast region resulted in federal charges against 24 defendants, with about 50 guns seized. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama joined with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to interrupt the pattern of federal firearms violations.

Focused enforcement efforts throughout the Southern District are bringing armed criminals to justice in federal court, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged 192 cases with 205 defendants with federal gun crimes in the past 12 months.

In order to increase illegal firearm prosecutions in Montgomery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office joined with the Montgomery Police Department to organize training for each Montgomery Police officer, starting with patrol. The PSN coordinator and the Law Enforcement Coordinator met officers at rollcall at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. until all officers were trained. The USAO has now expanded that project to other Middle District counties.

AG Sessions designated Birmingham as one of the nations’ few Public Safety Partnership communities where the Department of Justice infuses resources to the city and creates a platform for all levels of law enforcement to join forces to reduce violent criminal activity in the metropolitan area. Never before has there been the level of inter-agency cooperation that now exists in Birmingham. The Northern District office has taken that formula and expanded it around the Northern District, especially to include Anniston and Tuscaloosa. Not only are traditional members of law enforcement at the table, but also community leaders, City Hall, non-profits, and other groups with the sole interest of making neighborhoods safe again.

In the Southern District, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has continued its Bridging the Gap program, a successful partnership with the FBI, the Mobile Police Department, community leaders, and school systems to reach out to ninth-grade students about demonstrating the proper conduct youth and law enforcement should expect from one another during a law enforcement encounter. This program, developed in Mobile, was implemented nationwide by all 56 FBI field offices.

U.S. Attorney Richard Moore and his staff have been actively involved in the Selma area, coordinating with community organizations, community leaders, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and the public to develop prevention and enforcement priorities, and to establish a long-term presence in the community.

The FBI’s official crime data for 2017 reflects that, after two consecutive, historic increases in violent crime, in the first year of the Trump Administration the nationwide violent crime rate began to decline. The nationwide violent crime rate decreased by approximately one percent in 2017, while the nationwide homicide rate decreased by nearly one and a half percent.

The attorneys said that the preliminary information for 2018 gives reason for optimism that their efforts are continuing to pay off. Public data from 60 major cities show that violent crime was down by nearly five percent in those cities in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago.

Due to the enhanced partnerships created by the re-invigorated PSN program, the violent crime rate in Montgomery decreased in May by almost 16 percent.

The Northern District of Alabama has prosecuted more defendants in the past two years than in any two-year period in over a decade. Now, more than ever, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are working together to target the worst offenders in the highest crime areas so that those neighborhoods can be returned to their rightful owners…the law-abiding citizens who live there. Recognizing that incarceration alone will not solve all problems with crime, the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to work with community leaders from around the Northern District to provide opportunities and prevention programs that will not only prevent future criminal behavior, but make such behavior unnecessary in the first place.

Statistics from the Mobile Police Department show that focused enforcement efforts are paying off. From January 1 through the end of September, violent crime decreased by 1.7 percent, and includes a 34.4 percent reduction in criminal homicides and a 9.4 percent reduction in robberies.

These enforcement actions and partnerships are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. Learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Alabama has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and has the fourth highest murder rate. Efforts to fight crime are being hindered by a lack of sufficient prison capacity in the Alabama Department of Corrections to keep offenders locked up longer. Prosecutors are moving more cases to the federal system in order to combat the shortage of beds in the state system.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Health

At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.

Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.

On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.

There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.

The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.

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ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.

The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.

There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.

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Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.

For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.

Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.

Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.

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National

Today is the last day to register to vote for the November 3 general election

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election is Oct. 19.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The secretary of state’s office on Sunday announced that its employees will be available until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, to assist with voter registration.

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election is Oct. 19.

Eligible Alabamians can register to vote online at AlabamaVotes.gov, through the mobile app “Vote for Alabama,” or by visiting their county board of registrars office.

To submit an application to register to vote, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must live in the State of Alabama.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age on or before election day.
  • You must not be barred from voting by reason of a disqualifying felony conviction.
  • You must not have been judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law.

Online registrations will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. and in-person registrations will be accepted until the close of business Monday, Oct. 19.

The office of the secretary of state will be available by phone to assist with any questions or concerns until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 19 and can be reached at 334-242-7200 and the elections division can be reached at 334-242-7210.

Secretary of State John Merrill said, “I want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Public Service Announcement

You can still register after the deadline, but you won’t be able to vote in this general election. Voters must have a valid photo ID. If you do not have a valid photo ID you can get a free voter ID from your local board of registrars or from the secretary of state’s office.

Every voter must vote at the polling place that they are assigned. It is not too late to apply for an absentee ballot. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is five days before the election. A record number of people are expected to vote absentee.

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Elections

Tuberville, Sessions campaign together

The two former Republican primary opponents participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Brandon Moseley

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate campaign released a social media video Thursday featuring Tuberville alongside former U.S. Sen. and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The two former Republican primary opponents had participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Tuberville and Sessions on Wednesday met with representatives of Huntsville’s defense and technology sectors, participated in an event sponsored by the Republican Women of Huntsville and headlined multiple campaign fundraising events.

Sessions said, “Tommy, I support you 100 percent. Alabama must send you to represent us in the Senate. We cannot allow a Chuck Schumer acolyte – Doug Jones – to represent Alabama in the Senate.”

“You see it on his vote on the judges and Kavanaugh and the way he’s behaved about the new nominee, so I think … it would be shocking that Alabama would reelect a Doug Jones,” Sessions continued. “I know you’re going to win. I feel really good about it, and I’m glad that you’re traveling the state hard and that you’re here in this important community.”

The night after Tuberville won the Republican primary runoff election, Sessions committed to doing his part to help defeat Jones and reclaim the Senate seat for the ALGOP.

“After we won the runoff, Jeff Sessions called and told me, ‘Coach, I’m all in,’ and today’s joint events certainly demonstrate that he is a man of his word,” Tuberville said following the video shoot. “Jeff Sessions understands that it’s time we once again had a U.S. senator whose votes reflect our conservative Alabama values, not the ultra-liberal Hollywood and New York values of Doug Jones’s high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”

Tuberville faces a determined Jones, who is flooding the airwaves with ads. Democrats are desperate to hold on to Jones’ seat, believing that his seat could tip control of the Senate to the Democrats.

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Democrats hope to hold onto their control the U.S. House of Representatives and a recent poll by Rasmussen shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a five point lead over incumbent Donald Trump.

Sessions left the U.S. Senate to accept an appointment as Trump’s first attorney general.

Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore to win the seat in the special election.

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Sessions was fired by Trump in 2018 and announced his candidacy for Senate the day before qualifying ended. Tuberville had already spent ten months on the campaign trail at that point.

Tuberville defeated Sessions, Moore, Congressman Bradley Byrne, State Rep. Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair in the crowded Republican primary. Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. He also coached Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Ole Miss. Tuberville won a national championship as the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. Tuberville lives in Auburn.

The general election is Nov. 3.

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National

Saban tests negative for coronavirus, cleared to coach

Saban has been cleared to be on the field coaching Saturday’s football game against the University of Georgia.

Brandon Moseley

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

University of Alabama head football Coach Nick Saban took followup coronavirus tests on Friday and Saturday that came back negative following an earlier test that came back positive. Saban also tested negative on Thursday, ESPN reports.

This means that Saban has been cleared to be on the field coaching Saturday’s football game against the University of Georgia. Georgia is coach by Kirby Smart, a longtime Saban assistant.

Since Saban tested negative three times, each 24 hours apart, under the SEC protocols, he is allowed to coach the team in Saturday night’s nationally televised game against Georgia at Tuscaloosa.

Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the country while Georgia is ranked No. 3.

The SEC is playing a 10-game, conference-only schedule due to coronavirus concerns.

“I feel fine,” Saban said.

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Saban has been asymptomatic with no fever or breathing difficulties to this point. The University said in a statement that it will follow all of the SEC coronavirus protocols. The SEC can fine universities who break the virus rules as much as $1 million.

Saban will be 69 years old later this month and is in the age demographic most vulnerable to a bad outcome from COVID-19.

Even though he has been in isolation Saban has continued with his game preparations.

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“I can do absolutely everything here that I can do,” Saban told reporters Wednesday. “I’ll have the same exact routine. The first thing I do on Thursday morning is watch the defensive practice with the defense. Then we do two-point plays. Then I watch what we did against each other with the offense. Then I watch the offense practice and I watch special teams. Then I usually do a little write-up for two-point plays for the team. I’ll do all those things exactly like I always do it.”

If Saban could not have coached, then offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian would have coached Alabama tonight as interim offensive coordinator. Sarkisians was formerly the head coach at Washington and USC.

There have been 338 diagnosed coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County in just the last week. 130 residents of Tuscaloosa County have died in the pandemic.

The whole state of Alabama remains under a “safer-at-home” order through Nov. 8. Masks or cloth face coverings are required whenever you are in a public place or are within six feet of other people.

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