City Manager says Police should have warned citizens earlier - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City Manager says Police should have warned citizens earlier

March 16, 2006

Albany -- The city manager says Albany police made a mistake when they did not alert the public that a criminal suspect escaped from the police station.

It was nearly four hours after a suspect walked out of a police interrogation room before Albany Police notified the media.

They didn't even warn people who live and work in the downtown area where the escape happened.

Now Alfred Lott says a new policy will be drafted to make sure the cops properly handle such matters in the future.

City Manager Alfred Lott is upset how long it took before the public was informed about Wednesday morning's prisoner escape from the 14 and a half million dollar Law Enforcement Center. City Manager Alfred Lott said "I share the anguish and the anger that many residents have expressed."

Lott said it was human error that led to the escape. Lott said "This person was left unsecured, and he, Mr. Hall decided to leave."

Geoffrey Hall was arrested just before 10 AM at the Regions Bank on Dawson Road, for writing counterfeit checks. He tried to run over cops while escaping. They caught him, took him downtown for questioning, then walked out and left him alone in a room.

He got away. Around 11 AM they realized he was gone. Lott said "There was a search conducted to find out if indeed this person had in fact escaped. There was immediate steps to see if they could apprehend him in a quick fashion. Well, that didn't happen."

The Law Enforcement Center is in the heart of downtown Albany where thousands of people work. But it was wasn't until nearly 4 hours later that Albany Police warned the public Hall had escaped. Lott said "I don't think there was an issue of embarrassment, I don't think the procedure presently exists."

Lott said he has already started work on a new Policy for the Albany Police Department to inform the public in case of emergency. Lott said "One of the tasks I am going to have for Chief Younger is to develop a procedure that's acceptable with the communication vehicles that exist in Albany."

Hall has spent time in Georgia prisons twice for fraud and theft, but had never been violent until Wednesday.

Albany Police continue the search for him, while new policy changes are drawn up for future incidents.

City Manager Alfred Lott refused to identify the Investigator who left Hall alone, and would not say if he would be disciplined for the mistake.

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