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According to FBI statistics, violent crime has declined significantly across America, and that includes the city of Montgomery.

This should come as quite a surprise to those who have encapsulated themselves in a right-wing media bubble where shootings are common, murders are commonplace, and everyone should be scared to death all the time. It's a pretty classic case of some special interest-driven media taking a pretty widespread problem – the fairly consistent, if declining, crime rate in American cities – and hyping it up so much that the average viewer thinks the problem is much bigger than it actually is.

In an interview on the “Alabama Politics This Week” podcast available Friday, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed spoke about the frustrations that come with the very real crime problem, especially among Montgomery’s most vulnerable groups, while fighting the perception that crime in his city is “out of control.”

“Some of the statements are just factually incorrect,” Reed said. “There was a front-page article in the New York Times a few weeks ago about how public safety remains a campaign issue despite the decline in violence. It talked at length about social media and how information is disseminated compared to before – how people are responding to what's happening in their cities and their surrounding areas. And they also talked about the politics of violent crime and the partisanship of the messages behind it.

“It's a lot harder to get your message across. It's a lot harder when you're presenting facts than when someone says, 'We don't believe these facts because they don't fit my narrative, right?' So it's a challenge.”

Not surprisingly, right-wing politicians in Alabama are using Montgomery's history of crime to their advantage. This week, two Pike Road politicians introduced a bill that would allow the governor or attorney general to appoint an interim police chief for any city where crime exceeds a certain, arbitrary threshold. The bill's sponsors made it clear that it was aimed at Montgomery, but never mentioned the fact that Montgomery is neither in Alabama's top five crime areas nor in its top twenty violent crime areas.

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Reed didn't mince his words when discussing the law and the motivations behind it. The goal has little to nothing to do with public safety, but rather with who controls the money flowing in and out of America's largest cities.

“I'm on the board of trustees of the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, the largest mayoral organization in the country, and we're seeing more and more preemption (legislation) from state legislatures across the country,” Reed said. “We see that as a tactic. (These bills) usually come from conservative-led legislatures and target Democratic-led cities. So that's a strategy. That's something that's intentionally and deliberately designed to change who controls what. And I want your listeners to understand, I don't want your listeners to miss that point. It's not just about public safety. It's often about who controls the money and who benefits from it.”

You can listen to Reed's interview and the entire podcast by clicking the link at the top of the story, or subscribe to the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. For more information and past episodes, visit the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast website.

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