“Somebody stole my car.”

“WHAT?” The silent buzz of my phone at 5 a.m. chased by this eye-opening news made my mind race.

“They stole my car. It’s gone,” my son Will reiterated, his demeanor shocked but calm.

He was calling from his now vacant parking spot, surrounded by smashed bits of driver’s side window glass the thief left behind. He told us the apartment complex’s exit-side garage door was broken and had been left open for weeks.

“It’s how they got out.”

Helplessness and then fury gripped me. Words wouldn’t form so that I could ask the most critical question. Thankfully, my husband Chris jumped in.

“Are y’all ok?”

“Yes,” came the response.

We discovered that other car break-ins had recently occurred, causing the police to warn the apartment complex to fix their garage doors. Wait, so the complex will tow your car for being in the wrong spot but not protect it? Got it.

It took several days, but Will’s car was recovered. We’re grateful for that. But more so that no one was hurt.

But getting it back – because they don’t just give it to you and because Will’s car was wrecked – was another thing entirely.

After waiting in line at the police department – behind someone who wore bright ski goggles cockeyed and reeked of weed – and then watching others navigate the incalculable cost of crime, our eyes were opened. We can’t unsee those things, nor can we unsee what happened when we finally saw our sons’ car.

Following a guy through an expansive parking lot littered with broken vehicles and into a humid warehouse, we stared at mangled cars and shattered glass, bullet holes, and, in some cases, blood.

Death hung in the air.

We finally found Will’s car, assessed the damage, and started taking stuff out of his vehicle and transferring it to mine. When we were nearly done, I reached under the driver’s seat to ensure we hadn’t missed anything. Speechless, I pulled out a loaded pistol magazine.

Reality slammed into us, especially our son, and the worst kinds of what-ifs set in.

I never intended to write a part two to my last column about crime, fatherlessness and marriage – God’s design for human and community-wide stability – which incidentally debuted the day this event happened. But here we are, in the middle of a situation that makes life obscenely clear but bubbling with questions.

In the end, we were left with Chris' question, a valid question for a city that has, in some places, devolved into madness: Don’t they only have one job?

That job is not to invent another social program, hold picnics or even hold the hands of residents. As Britannica says, “The state is a form of human association distinguished from other social groups by its purpose, the establishment of order and security; its methods, the laws and their enforcement; its territory, the area of jurisdiction or geographic boundaries; and finally by its sovereignty."

That’s the answer.

The job of the state is to establish order and security, wield the sword and protect her residents' safety.

Statistics suggest that Birmingham isn’t doing that.

Birminghamcrime Alabama News
Birminghamcrime2 Alabama News

Still, it’s hard to keep people safe when Birmingham’s Police Department, like Montgomery's, is down nearly 300 officers. The Fraternal Order of Police is set for a vote of no confidence in the city’s police leadership. 

It’s also hard to stay safe without addressing the root cause of crime, which is that the human heart is deceptively wicked above all else. Crime exists because we’re sinners. 

However, the lasting, transformative answer to crime is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the hope our citizens need. Let’s start there first.

Then, there are practical steps that could also transform communities. Some of these evidence-backed ideas are presented in a Prager U video by Tom Hogan: 

  1. Target “the power few.” Five percent of criminals commit 50% of violent crimes.

  2. Target drug dealers and gun-toting felons.

  3. Unite cops and prosecutors. Keep cops on the case - not at odds with prosecutors - even during the trial phase. It’s more intense but yields far better results.

  4. Keep bad actors in jail. Studies show the practice of early release isn’t working.

As for us, we’re still waiting to find out what’s going on. We still have questions about things such as why there was a loaded gun magazine in the car. Where is the police report? The situation has been a failure.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Birmingham PD, we respect and appreciate the work you do. But no matter what’s going on in your department, no matter what you need to work out, you still have one job: keep us safe.

And right now, we’re waiting for you to do that.

Amie Beth Shaver co-hosts Alabama Unfiltered Radio show daily from 9-12 a.m. on News Talk 93.1 fm WAVC, and 92.5, WXJC. Her column appears every other Saturday at 1819 News. To book Amie Beth for media or speaking engagement's, email amiebeth.shaver@1819News.com.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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