Community asked for assistance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Community asked for assistance

Albany- Police say, graffiti found just weeks ago in the Willow Wood complex off Oakridge is the first sign of increasing gang activity.

"Someone came and drew graffiti and then someone came and has drawn over that, that indicates to us that there's a problem," said Lt. James Williams, Albany Police.

Gang violence has declined in recent years, but now police worry gangs are recruiting new members and becoming more active.

"It's getting worse than just spray painting a building, now they're into motor vehicle thefts, burglaries, robberies, things of that nature," said Lt. Kendra Wilson, Albany Police.

Wilson is investigating last month's raid of 13 members of the C.M.E Rattlers gang after a string of burglaries near Albany High School. She says, the community needs to be aware.

"They should be wary of kids walking the street when they should be in school, they should notify the police to maybe ride through and check and find out why that student isn't in school," said Wilson.

That's what's concerning leaders who say, the community is not doing enough to attend gang task force meetings or notify police.

"We have to be the eyes and ears and we have to care, and we have to care enough to be educated and to get involved," said Judy Bowles of the gang violence task force.

The District Attorney's office is doing its part, they plan to indict the teens as adults on racketeering charges.

"It's an enhanced charge, carried up to 20 years and it also has a mandatory minimum sentence that we're looking into and it also allows us to tell the whole story of the 22 incidents that we're connecting these 13 individuals," said Leah McEwen, Assistant District Attorney.

Police say they want to stop it earlier than that, by having the community call and alert them as soon as they see something as simple as graffiti. The next Gang Task Force meeting is March 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the government center.

posted by jennifer.emert@walb.com

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