A police officer talks with a woman outside the University Police precinct on University Boulevard.

Safety Enhancements, Partnerships See Results

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama and city of Tuscaloosa continue to make an area along University Boulevard just west of the campus, known as the Strip, a place the community and Alabama fans can enjoy.  

“We want our community members and fans to be able to come and have a good time,” said University of Alabama Chief of Police John Hooks. “The added and enhanced security measures that we implemented last year have been well-received and led to positive results, and we are continuing to make sure the Strip is a safe, secure and friendly environment for those who want to visit.” 

In February 2023, UAPD and Tuscaloosa police joined together to open a precinct at 1209 University Blvd. 

The precinct is staffed 24 hours a day by a UA Security Resources assistant, and a UAPD officer is always on patrol in the area. Anyone needing to report a crime, report lost or stolen property, turn in found items or just speak with an officer can do so by visiting the customer service window in the precinct lobby. 

A student hands a cell phone that he found to a Security Resources Assistant in the new University Police precinct.
Students can turn in any property they find at the customer service window in the precinct lobby.

“Speaking on behalf of The University of Alabama student body, we are proud and appreciative of the safety advancements on the Strip undertaken jointly by UAPD and TPD,” said SGA President Collier Dobbs. “Whether through the increased opportunities for students to report incidents, increased visibility or increased safety precautions in regard to automobile traffic, their efforts have made a positive impact on students’ college experiences as they traverse our campus daily.” 

An added dedicated resource, the UAPD Off-Campus Public Safety Unit led by Capt. Mark Grimes, along with officers from the Tuscaloosa Police Department, increase patrols in the area Wednesday through Saturday nights. Police presence also increases when larger-than-average crowds are expected, such as for home football games.  

“Maintaining a strong partnership between UAPD and TPD is vital in keeping the area safe,” Grimes said. “With the increased law enforcement presence in the area, both departments have received positive feedback from the community.”  

“There’s always a presence of officers walking up and down the Strip, especially on the weekends,” said Bill Getchell, owner of PJ’s Coffee and Rita’s Italian Ice shop on the Strip. “It really has improved the security around the Strip.” 

Along with the new precinct, other security enhancements have also been made in the area. Additional security cameras have been installed, along with fiber optic internet which allows Security Resources to monitor more cameras simultaneously. A new public address system has been installed allowing officers to make recorded and live voice announcements to crowds when needed. 

An outdoor PA system allows police to make announcements to crowds.

For pedestrian safety, UAPD began using portable speed bumps to slow traffic on University Boulevard during peak evening hours. The city has worked to curb cruising in the area by placing permanent traffic calming devices on several adjacent streets, which also reduces speeding in those heavily student-populated areas. 

“The portable speedbumps are a deterrent,” Grimes said. “Most motorists don’t like to drive over them, and it reduces reckless exhibition driving and speeding in the area, as well as unwanted cruising.”  

To help with loitering in parking areas, the city enacted new towing regulations in August, which means drivers are more likely to be towed if they park in a lot that requires a decal or other credentials. University parking lots in the area are closed to visitors at night. 

“With student safety and well-being being on the forefront of our minds in the Student Government Association, we couldn’t be more pleased with the increased police presence in a high-traffic area like the Strip,” said SGA President-elect Samad Gillani. “The diligence and attentiveness of the Tuscaloosa and UA Police departments to constantly improving our campus safety is something that we feel immense gratitude for and thank both departments for their service.” 

The Strip Precinct is a partnership between UAPD and Tuscaloosa Police.

While the safety enhancements have made positive impacts, Hooks and Grimes both point to the partnerships that have been formed with the city and local business owners as the main reason for change in the area. University and city leaders meet regularly to discuss ways to improve the Strip. Ideas for the precinct and security enhancements were formed in those meetings. 

“Downtown Tuscaloosa offers a historic community and wonderful neighborhoods energized with the youthful vitality of 40,000 students, their parents and visitors,” said City Councilman Lee Busby whose district includes the Strip. “The partnership between the city and UA has never been stronger.”  

“We’ve also built partnerships with the local business owners,” Grimes said. “They know we are out there to support them, and they’ve been very supportive of what we are doing.” 

Getchell agreed, saying his business has seen an increase in customers coming in later at night, which he attributes to the added security. 

“I do think that our customers are noticing the police presence more, and I do think that they feel more comfortable being out on the Strip and casually walking up and down into the stores on a nightly basis,” Getchell said. 

The work, however, is not done. In the coming months, UAPD plans to begin using low-speed vehicles to help better navigate the area for faster response times. The city and University are conducting a corridor study to determine what additional improvements need to be made to University Boulevard between campus and downtown. Upgrades to security, lighting, utility systems and landscaping in the area are all expected in the future. 

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Alex House, UA Strategic Communications, alex.house@ua.edu, 205-348-8323