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Montgomery DA: Current crime issue isn’t new, but attention could lead to change

Montgomery DA Daryl Bailey said he has been sounding the alarm about Montgomery’s crime issues for at least a decade.

Montgomery County DA Daryl Bailey
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Montgomery is not experiencing a sudden uptick in violent crime; the uptick started more than a decade ago, but it’s only now catching the attention of Montgomery’s wealthier residents. 

That was the opinion shared by Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey, during an interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast published Friday morning. Bailey, one of the most respected and longest serving DAs in Alabama, said he was sounding the alarm about a spike in violent crime as far back as 10 years ago. 

“I’ve been saying this now for at least a decade – that we have had a violent crime problem,” Bailey said. “So to me, it’s nothing new. I think what has happened is that crime has moved out to East Montgomery and a lot of people are now paying a lot more attention to it because it’s come into, you know, neighborhoods where typically violent crime hasn’t been and it’s caused a lot more people to pay attention to it, especially a lot of people that have a lot of businesses in Montgomery, have a lot of investments in Montgomery, that type of thing.”

Over the last several years, Montgomery’s more affluent population has steadily migrated east, building new schools and escaping areas of the city in which crime was more prevalent. At the same time, city leaders had downplayed the growing crime problems in less affluent areas, telling residents that the crime issues were restricted to mainly those committing crimes and was essentially nothing for the regular folks to worry about. 

But Bailey said that was never really the case, and that in the DA’s office and police department, they could see the ever-increasing problems. Which is why he spoke up all those years ago, and began taking action to try to head off the problems. 

For the first time, though, he said he now feels as if the majority of the city is now paying attention to the issue and that they’re finally motivated enough to make meaningful change. 

“I don’t think it really matters why people are paying attention to it, I think it’s good that people are paying attention to it,” Bailey said. “For the right or the wrong reasons, whatever, I’m glad that people are finally paying attention to it because it’s something that we do need to resolve and to work on.”

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Bailey identified a number of problems and changes that need to be made. Included in that list was making sure some perpetrators of crimes aren’t allowed back on the streets so easily, and addressing various manipulations of the cash bond system. (A system that Bailey said he would like to see abolished altogether due to its inherent unfairness.)

However, he also said the solutions to Montgomery’s issues are much deeper than many seem to believe. 

“It’s very complex, obviously,” Bailey said. “It’s not just “lock them up,” as if that is going to be the answer. That’s certainly part of it as you know, there are people that need to be separated from society. I mean, there are people that would rather shoot you and your family than have a conversation with you. And those folks do need to be separated from society. I don’t have any issues with that. But if we’re truly doing our jobs and we truly care, we’ve got to do a lot more on the front end to make sure that these folks are not coming into the criminal justice system to begin with.”

Bailey also spoke about the failures of many parents, new initiatives that might be coming and Montgomery’s massive murder case backlog. 

To listen to the full interview, go to the Alabama Politics This Week webpage here or click the link above. You can also get each week’s episodes delivered to your preferred podcast platform by subscribing on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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