Terrell County doesn't want Albany crime - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Terrell County doesn't want Albany crime

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Terrell County's Sheriff worries gang activity spilling over from Dougherty County could soon be a problem in his community.

Gang symbols are popping up on buildings and signs throughout the county and in Dawson.

This week, Sheriff John Bowens asked commissioners to hire an investigator with gang experience to help deal with the problem before it escalates. He also asked the Albany Police Department's Gang Unit to help identify gang symbols found around the county.

Terrell County Sheriff John Bowens has seen the writing on the wall, and worries the gang graffiti that's defaced the Old Sasser Peanut Company could be a sign of a bigger problem in the community.

"I'm concerned now about this is branching over out of Albany and into Terrell County," said Bowens.

He received information that 32-year-old Reginald Richardson who was beaten to death last Tuesday in Albany in what police believe was a gang initiation was also involved in gang activity in Terrell County. "He was kind of recruiting some of the people in Terrell."

The graffiti-defaced county signs, but tennis shoes and streets signs marked with gang symbols are also marking off gang territory in Dawson.

"On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd say its about a four right now, but we don't want it to escalate to a 10," said Dawson Police Chief Charlie Whitehead.

With two gangs identified, the sheriff and police chief are asking for the community's help.

"I think a lot of our citizens see this type of writing and really don't know what it means and I just want to make it aware to them as to what this stuff is," said Bowens.

They're asking citizens to step up and anonymously report any suspicious activity.

"Because of the economic downturn and of course a lot of gangs have taken advantage of the economy and hopefully we can stop it before it gets out of hand," said Whitehead.

The Sheriff is working to set up a town hall meeting to inform people what to watch for from their children at home to the gang symbols they might find along their streets. He hasn't picked a specific date, but hopes to hold the meeting sometime in the next two weeks.

If you see any suspicious activity that might be gang related, you can make an anonymous tip to either the Dawson Police Department or Terrell County Sheriff's Office.

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