Crime worries spread in city - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Crime worries spread in city

August 15, 2006

Albany -- People in Northwest Albany say crime is rampant in their neighborhoods.   And they're right. Thefts and burglaries are up 50% in this part of town.  

And violent crime on the Northwest side is up 39%. People worry it is getting worse.      

Tommy McDowell says he is worried, because his family grocery store was broken into June 9th, along with three other businesses within a block.  "One evening they threw a big flower pot through our front door and came in. Left my registers open. It only had change in it," said the owner of Tommy Mc's.

His Lake Park Drive store is in one of the trendiest spots in the city, but now crime is a worry. McDowell said, "We used to not have any problems over this way, but it seems to be that things are definitely coming over this way."

And he's right. Albany Police Department's latest crime analysis proves it. Property crimes like burglary and thefts city wide are up 21%. And in District One, Northwest Albany, violent crime is up nearly 39%, and property crimes up more than 50% over last year.

Albany Police Chief James Younger says they are already taking action. "We are taking some aggressive measures in terms of trying to re-ignite some of the neighborhood watches, we are establishing new neighborhood watches. We are putting out PSA's encouraging people to secure their property, such as lawn mowers and lawn equipment. And to secure their homes," Younger said.

McDowell said crime is the hot topic of conversation among his neighbors, many of whom have been broken into. Younger says people getting involved, and reporting suspicious behavior is the key. "Citizen involvement is really one of the great keys, and citizen involvement has helped us solve a tremendous number of crimes," Younger said.

Chief Younger says he has a technician who will come to businesses and show them ways to prevent break ins and crime.

McDowell says he is glad, because the increased crime around his business has them worried. "It's got everyone over here concerned, and really open for suggestions," McDowell said. "Don't know what we need to do about it, but it's not getting better, it's getting worse."  

Violent crimes like murder and robbery are up about 9% over last year.

One thing that may deter criminals is a stronger police presence. Albany Police Chief James Younger says since he took over, vacancies in the department have fallen from 38 to 20. Five of those positions have been filled with graduates of the police academy. 13 other positions are filled with cadets still trying to pass certain portions of the skills tests.  He says, "About 13 of our recruits have had some challenges with the firearms as well as the emergency driving operations. These are two trainable skills. People can learn these skills."

Younger says he is confident all 13 cadets will pass those portions and graduate from the academy, increasing the number of officers on the streets of Albany.

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