Law Enforcement Leaders Unite to Condemn Gun Violence
The heads of the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office and the Northport Police Department gathered together with other community leaders Monday morning to condemn gun violence in and around the Druid City.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said between April 30th and June 10th, there were 17 different shootings in the city limits alone, including two homicides, and six were committed by juveniles.
"There is no place for that in this community," Anderson said.
Anderson said law enforcement agencies across the area were stepping up patrols, aggressively investigating all shootings and working to be more proactive instead of reactive, but said police will not be able to stem this tide alone.
"These individuals out here committing these crimes have families, they have parents, they have uncles and aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters and those family members know if they're involved in nonsense," Anderson said. "If you care anything about those young people and don't want to see them either seriously injured, in jail or dead, you need to sit down and talk to those individuals and explain that this has got to stop."
Anderson was joined by Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, NPD Chief Gerald Burton, District Attorney Hays Webb, the NAACP's Jerry Carter and Eddie Fulmer, the president of BamaCarry, the state's largest group of gun rights activists.
Each community leader had their own statements to make and questions to answer, but the message was the same -- the violent crime that is on the rise in and around Tuscaloosa must stop.
"We have a major problem here in our area and I just think now is the time to take this as serious as serious can be," Carter said.
Carter urged state legislators to pass laws that ban or limit access to the guns commonly used in this kind of violence. Fulmer, who was opposed to the idea of gun control, advocated instead for more involvement from families, churches and the community at large to combat violence. Webb said his office would continue to aggressively prosecute violent criminals and ensure that anyone caught carrying a gun during the commission of any crime, violent or otherwise, would spend time in jail or prison.
"Once you introduce a gun into that situation it changes the nature of it," Webb said. "That's the reason we have a particularized focus on the presence of a gun while you're breaking the law."