The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) received $10 million on Monday to reduce crime and drive economic growth in Birmingham.

J. Frank Barefield Jr. donated $5 million to both UAB's Department of Criminal Justice (College of Arts and Sciences) and the Entrepreneurship Program. In turn, UAB will name each in his honor.

Barefield has been chairman of Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama for the last 10 years. During this time, Crime Stoppers tips have assisted in 1,651 felony arrests and cleared 3,717 felony cases.

Crime Stoppers is a community partnership between law enforcement and private business. They receive information on crimes, sometimes for a reward, and help police make arrests.

Barefield's donation is the largest given to UAB by an alumnus in the university's history, coming at a time when the economy is slowing down and crime is rising in the city. 

According to Neighborhood Scout, Birmingham is among the most dangerous cities in the United States, only safer than 1% of other U.S. cities. Birmingham has a violent crime rate of 16.61 per 1,000 residents. 

Someone's chance of becoming a violent crime victim in Birmingham is one in 60. In Alabama, these chances are one in 225.

Ensley, South Pratt, West End, West Princeton, Jones Valley, Fountain Heights, City Center, Avondale, Collegeville, East Birmingham, South Woodlawn, Wahouma and Oak Ridge Park are among the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.

September, in particular, has been a bloody month for Birmingham. 

Over Labor Day weekend, a spree of murders plagued the city resulting in at least six deaths and more injuries. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin suggested the violence might be due to gang activity.

According to WBRC, Birmingham homicides are up nearly 40% since September 2021.

Barefield said there is "probably no bigger opponent of business" than widespread crime against persons and property.

Barefield received his finance degree from the University of Alabama and served in the U.S. Air Force before he was honorably discharged. He received his MBA degree from UAB at night while working as an investment banker. 

Barefield created the predecessor to Abbey Residential in 1984 and earned the company $2.5 billion in assets. He now serves as the company's president.

According to the university, the $5 million donation to the Department of Criminal Justice will help expand the department's predictions of individual risk factors for crime, collaboration with law enforcement and implementation of interventions in neighborhoods to combat cycles of violence. 

Dean of the College of Arts and Science at UAB Kecia Thomas said the gift would allow the Department of Criminal Justice to expand its reach and prevent and solve crimes. 

"Business only prospers when honest people receive the rewards they have earned," Barefield said. "Law enforcement is an essential part of growing a business, and people need to realize that law enforcement is the responsibility of everyone, not just the police. That is one of the reasons Crime Stoppers does so much to help reduce crime: by rewarding anonymous tipsters who only need to 'make a call and make a difference.'"

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the donation was the largest given to UAB by an alumnus in the university's history.

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