APD begins new Hispanic initiative to curb crime - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

APD begins new Hispanic initiative to curb crime

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Albany Police worry Hispanics are becoming easy targets for crime. They've been the victims of several violent crimes in the city recently.

APD hopes a new outreach plan will keep the problem from getting worse. Police say many criminals think Hispanics are more likely to carry cash and less likely to call police.

Corporal Jorge Lopez is on a new mission with a special assignment from Albany Police. His new task is to make his presence known to members of the Hispanic community. There's been a spike in crime against Hispanics. Reported crimes include everything from aggravated assaults to robberies by snatching.

"Breaking into people's houses and home invasions," said Lopez.

A Hispanic man was recently shot during an attempted robbery at Dunes Mobile Home Park. Just days later, a man was beaten and robbed as he and his family put up Christmas lights. Their neighbor ran the robbers off and got his home shot up as retaliation.

"The bullet went through the door and hit the wall inside," said victim Juan Lucas.

"Some Hispanics are afraid to come forward and report about the crime," said Lopez.

Since October 22nd, there have been at least nine targeted crimes and Lopez is learning of more unreported crimes as he makes his rounds. "Somebody went to their house, ransacked the whole house, flipped the mattress, stole a couple of items from the house and because he was afraid to report it to the police, he never reported it," said Lopez.

Corporal Lopez hopes to ease some of those fears by being more proactive and letting them know Albany Police is here to protect them from the criminal element. "He says this is the first time an officer has come and he feels much better that I came over here and talked to him," said Lopez.

"What we want to do is equip our Hispanic community with the tools they need," said APD Media Manager Phyllis Banks-Whitley.

The ultimate goal is to form a better partnership. "I'm trying to get them when they have a problem to call me," said Lopez.

Corporal Lopez hopes his new mission makes a difference.

Lopez will continue going door to door, conducting interviews and handing out those flyers with safety tips. They include not carrying large amounts of cash, what to do in case of a robbery and if they are victims of crime, calling to report it.

Phase two of the initiative will include public service announcements and more outreach through ministers and workshops.

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