I was out walking with my youngest daughter this evening and a woman handed me a letter. I read the letter and thought you might want a heads up on it because, if it hasn't happened already, you will be getting a few calls from "concerned citizens".
The letter is from a Ben Shelton. Mr. Shelton is a resident in Bluff Park who was in the Piggly Wiggly, along with his 4 year old son, on Saturday morning when it was robbed. Mr. Shelton is pretty angry about the incident and is demanding some action be taken.
He suggests that we, as citizens, demand a police sub-station in Bluff Park as well as a neighborhood watch program. I can't really say that I disagree with him at this point.
Over the past four years, I have had to call the police department several times. Without getting boring, let me cover each incident as best I can recall it.
1. A call from my oldest daughter, who was returning from work at Buffalo Wild Wings on Hwy. 150, at 11pm in late December 2003, advising me that she was being shot at by a car next to her on Patton Chapel Road by the fire station. She stayed on the phone with me while this car was chasing her, reaching speeds over 60 mph. I advised her to continue her way home. At the time we lived on Keven Drive. Keven Dr. is off Coronado, which is off Hawksbury. She drove to Brookline Drive, turned right to Shenandoah, then turned right on Shenandoah, up the hill where it T's into Hawksbury. The other car was in pursuit of her the entire way. While she was being chased, I had driven to the intersection of Hawksbury just before Shenandoah. I instructed her to go through the Stop sign (believe it or not!), which she did. As she passed my car, the other car was right behind her. I moved my car to block their way and she made it home
safe. The other car, seeing that the chase was over, turned right and I began chasing it through Bluff Park. I contacted Hoover PD (HPD)dispatch and advised them of the status. The chase took us to Tyler Road where they turned right, with me right behind them, still on the phone with HPD. At the church on Tyler Road, they turned in and drove to the back of the parking lot and stopped. I stopped my car approx. 150 feet from them. I asked dispatch HPD's status and she said they were on their way, to not get out of my car (apparently they thought I was stupid). While waiting, the back driver's side door of the car I had chased opened and one white male exited the vehicle. My window was partially open and I yelled for him to get on the ground and spread his arms and legs. He complied. He had left the door open, so I yelled for the rest (there were five total) to get out and lay on the ground and spread their arms and legs, which they did. Keep in mind that I had
dispatch on the phone during all this, asking them where the police was. She indicated they were enroute. Five minutes after we had stopped, and over ten minutes since I initiated the call, a sea of blue lights came over the hill and surrounded the car. Five people were arrested. It turned out they had shot at my daughter's car with a pellet gun. They had also spent the weekend doing $23,000 worth of vandalism to numerous homes in Hoover, including slashing car tires, knocking over mailboxes and other things.
2. My daughter and I were on the way home from school in 2004. It was around 2:30 pm and I was driving up Shenandoah. A truck was parked in the middle of the road about 3/4 of the way up being unloaded. I drove up and asked if I could drive by.
The supervisor told me to "Kiss his a**" and to turn around and go another way, which is not possible. I proceeded to drive past the truck. My window was down and as I drove past the truck the supervisor spit in my face. I stopped the car and got out.
He was holding his arms by his side and was holding a knife in his right hand. I picked up my cell phone and called dispatch. Twenty three minutes later a cruiser arrived. During this time the man went to his car, hid his knife and told the police officer that he did not have a knife. The officer said that without a weapon there was nothing they could do.
3. One evening while still living on Keven Drive I heard a noise outside. Keven Drive is a dead end street that feeds from Coronado. The street has a cul-de-sac on one end and a dead end on the other. There are four houses on one side and three on the other, with Coronado intersecting Keven at the midway point. The noise I heard was a pick up truck going about 30-40 mph up and down the street. When he reached the end of one side, he would drive onto the yard and turn around and go back the other way. I contacted dispatch to let them know. This went on for nearly seven minutes. I thought the man was drunk and disoriented. After seven to eight minutes he finally found Coronado and drove off, with no police in sight. It turns out that he was stopped about fifteen minutes later after having crashed into someone's mailbox. He was having a diabetic reaction and did not know his whereabouts.
4. Earlier this year my daughter had a break in in her residence in Bluff Park. In March she went out of town for a few days and her residence was unoccupied. I received a call from her telling me that her neighbor had called her and that her front door had been kicked in and was wide open (this was around 2 pm). The neighbor called the police after she called my daughter. After my daughter called me, I drove to her residence from work. I work on Acton Road near the Colonnades. I reached the residence before the first police officer did, which was nearly 15 minutes after I got the call.
I could go on, but I'm sure I'm beginning to bore you. Do you notice a common pattern in all these incidents? All of them show that there is a) no presence by the Hoover PD and b) a long response time by the Hoover PD in Bluff Park with one exception: When they are running radar on Shades Crest Road. That's it. The rest of the time they are doing whatever, but not in Bluff Park.
One month ago I had Tim Westhoven at my door promising me two things due to the lack of cars stopping at stop signs on our street, a problem that has been going on for over a year. First he promised a 48" Stop Sign. Second, increased police presence on our street. Neither has happened yet. Frankly, I doubt it will unless I pick up the phone and call him.
The MO for the Hoover Police department and the City of Hoover in general to citizen concerns seems to be "listen to them, promise something will be done and then let it sit. Maybe they'll forget about it". Well, Brian, after reading Mr. Shelton's letter, I can promise you we're not going to forget about this. I recommend you read the letter and I'll be more than happy to fax it to you.
During the writing of this e-mail I received a call from Mr. Shelton, with whom I had left a message earlier. We spoke for a while and it seems that I'm not alone with my disappointment in how Bluff Park is being treated by HPD. A meeting will take
place over the course of the next two weeks to which you and other council members are sure to be invited. During this meeting a number of people will voice their concerns. Mr. Shelton has already received over 20 calls from concerned citizens.
I think the people in Bluff Park have become fed up with the treatment they are receiving from the city. You are familiar with Bluff Park. As I told Mr. Shelton, you tend to listen and act on what you hear. It's time to act on this, Brian. And it's time to hold the police department accountable. They need to quit doing some of the petty things they do and concentrate on some more important things. I will explain the petty things at a later time, but, believe me, they are petty.
Let me know your fax number so I can send you Mr. Shelton's letter. I have also registered the domain bluffparkal.org, for which my company PC Medics of Alabama, will be designing a web site and hosting the site at no charge. The site should be up within 48 hours. This site will serve as the information point regarding what progress is being made regarding our issues.
I look forward to hearing from you.