ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Thorne. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
2,675 pieces of graffiti were splattered all over downtown Birmingham last year–but you didn’t see any of them. That’s because our CAP officers removed them almost instantaneously.
Can you imagine what downtown Birmingham would look like if we hadn’t been removing graffiti from walls, signs, and power boxes for the past 19 years?
I’ve spent most of my adult life in Birmingham, and I feel we rarely take the time to celebrate our successes. Our City Action Partnership (CAP) has been a success from day one. Dennis Blass was our first Executive Director and his vision to add stranded motorist services to CAP’s mission shaped CAP into what it is today.
- jumpstarted 3,074 cars
- provided gas for 807 stranded motorists
- unlocked 1,294 cars for folks
- provided general help for 4,502 people*
Our CAPs are guardian angels who are always there when you need them. The stats don’t reveal all the things they do, like finding lost children and helping lost people find their cars or destination, rescuing wounded/lost animals, helping the homeless, etc. CAP officers save lives—administering CPR, lifting a bus off an accident victim, helping a choking child. It’s difficult to put a value on that.
If you have any kind of problem in the Birmingham region, the best place to be is downtown Birmingham.
And the amount of crime in our CAP district downtown has dropped by 64% since the inception of CAP, making downtown consistently as safe or safer than Mt. Brook or Vestavia Hills. CAP augments the effectiveness of the police by providing extra “eyes” and “ears,” patrolling on bikes and in marked vehicles. In 2013, CAP assisted the police and fire departments on 157 occasions. CAP is often the first responder on the scene and has direct radio connections to police if needed.
While Birmingham is usually “behind” Atlanta, city leaders implemented our program before Atlanta, and Atlanta used Birmingham as a model for their downtown Ambassadors. Long before the success of Railroad Park and Regions Field—there was CAP. In fact, it might be fair to say that CAP has played a significant role in the big successes we’ve had in Birmingham and downtown. It’s all about quality of life—new restaurants, unique shops and architecture, parks and pocket parks, the synergy of meeting people on the street, and the comfort of knowing CAP is just around the corner.
And the CAP program costs our citizens nothing. We are fully funded by the downtown property owners.
Next year, CAP will be twenty years old. Downtown Birmingham’s future is bright, and CAP plans to be part of it!
*Our phone number is posted on all the parking meters in our downtown district. When you need stranded motorist assistance or need directions or just need some help, flag down one of our CAP Officers or call us at 251-0111. Visit our website at www.capisdowntown.com or Facebook page “CAP Downtown Birmingham.”
A retired Birmingham police captain, Teresa Thorne is the executive director of CAP, stepping occasionally into a phone booth to become T.K. Thorne, author of Noah’s Wife, Angels at the Gate: the story of Lot’s Wife (coming summer 2014) and Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers. (www.tkthorne.com).
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).