Police Precinct

Built in 1967, this two-story police headquarters once housed Birmingham Police Department’s West Precinct. The West Precinct originally began as the Ensley Precinct, covering the west side of the city. The two-story headquarters was built to house patrol operations as well as a municipal court on the second floor. When it opened, 30 patrol officers were stationed at the precinct. Over the next decade, as the city population grew, so did the need for more law enforcement. A push for more diverse city employees led to more black police officers in the lower-income areas of town.

During the height of the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic, officers from the West Precinct organized a sting operation to lure anyone attempting to sell stolen goods and discuss their crimes. Codenamed “Operation Western Sizzler”, undercover agents set up a front as a pawn shop named Johnny’s Thrift Shop in West End. The shop owner, Johnny, was played by Tuscaloosa police officer Johnny Samaniego, a 34-year-old undercover narcotics agent who was on loan to the Birmingham police. Johnny would engage the thieves in conversation to obtain their names, addresses, and details of the thefts while a closed-circuit camera behind the counter recorded everything.

The shop owner was actually an undercover narcotics agent who would engage the thieves in conversation to obtain their names, addresses, and details of the thefts while a closed-circuit camera behind the counter recorded everything. From September 1985 until February 1986, the pawn shop performed 235 transactions, spending $67,000 to purchase $2 million worth of stolen goods. These items included 113 cars, 4 motorcycles, handguns, musical instruments, household electronics, power tools, credit cards, and clothing. The pawn shop performed over 200 transactions, spending $67,000 to purchase $2 million worth of stolen goods. These items included cars, motorcycles, handguns, musical instruments, household electronics and appliances, power tools, credit cards, and clothing. Word even spread as far as surrounding states, luring at least one thief with a stolen car from Atlanta. When the operation concluded, 65 suspects had been identified and 37 were arrested within a week of the store closing.

Today, there are over 130 patrol officers stationed at Birmingham’s West Precinct which now covers 65 square miles and more than 80,000 residents in 39 of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods. In late 2011, construction of a new precinct at Five Points West was approved and a groundbreaking ceremony took place on January 25, 2012. The $2 million building was dedicated in 2015 in honor of former Deputy Chief Leroy Stover. The old West Precinct remains vacant and abandoned.

Police Station
The old police precinct was also used as a McGruff Place – a safety zone where children can get immediate help. The building was the only non-residence in Alabama to receive this designation from the National McGruff House Network.
Police Station
The two-story brick and stone-clad building was once apart of the vibrant historic Ensley Business District.
Police Station
The first-floor entry into the police headquarters

Police Precinct

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The antiquated headquarters closed a decade ago after a new $2 million police station was built a short distance away.
Police Station
The male locker room inside the old precinct.

Police Precinct

Police Station
One issue that plagued the police station was that it was not ADA-compliant since there is no elevator to the second floor.
Police Headquarters
The second-floor municipal courtroom hosted civic events after the precinct closed.

Police Precinct

Police Precinct

Police Precinct

Police Precinct

Police Precinct

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For more abandoned places from across the city, check out Abandoned Birmingham. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

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