On Marengo Drive, in the middle of Alabama Village, a women who’s sitting out on her porch with the front door cracked open behind her, gives a glimpse into what it’s like to live in one of Prichard’s most notorious subdivisions.
“It’s dangerous. You hear gunshots and you’ve got to get inside. It’s just like when you hear thunder…go inside. When you hear gunshots, you’ve got to go inside!”
She says she doesn’t want to tell us her name out of fear. Just down the street is what, up until recently, was considered one of the most dangerous blocks in the city.
Hale Drive used to be a mecca for drug activity and robberies. Criminals could easily hide in the overgrown brush and inside abandoned houses that line the street to evade any police officers patrolling down the main road.
“There were several homicides back in there…. robberies. They’d normally bring people back there and rob them because you don’t have any witnesses back there,” Prichard Police Chief Walter Knight gets out of the car we’re riding in and points to an open lot which used to be inaccessible. Knight says the mayor’s administration and him started tearing down the houses and clearing the brush in an effort to drive out the criminals who were using it as a safe haven.
“We used to get at least three calls a day here,” Knight says.”We probably get one call a week now from this area.”
This sort of tactic is often coined as “hotspot policing” because it focuses on a geographical location with a high 911 call volume. Several agencies around the country use it, including the Mobile County Sheriff’s office.