Crime up in Albany, residents want more police patrol - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Crime up in Albany, residents want more police patrol

January 13, 2007

Albany - - Crime is up five percent in the city of Albany from this time last year. People who live and work in East Albany feel much of the city's crime is happening in their area and they want police to step up their efforts. Several of those people met with Albany police chief James Younger Saturday to express their concerns.

When Fred Balke moved to Albany a couple of years ago, his major project was cleaning up the Pine Bluff Country Estates, a mobile home park he manages in East Albany.

He's made it more appealing to the eye, but now he's battling another problem.

"When a residence has a lot of traffic there on a regular basis and its three to five minute stops, it's obviously not mom and dad coming for a visit."

Balke says drug activity is up and police activity in the area is down.

"With the drug unit, there's been some lack of response issues."

He's one of several business leaders and residents who met with city police officers requesting a larger police presence and better relations between officers and the community.

Police chief James Younger says he's requiring all of his officers to go through training to improve their ability to relate to the community.

"The expected outcome of that is that their encounters with you will be much better encounters, much more sensitive encounters and they'll have a lot more concern with regard to why you called them to the scene."

On top of that, he's requiring extra training on ethics and legal affairs. The head of the city's drug unit also addressed the crowd about how to spot signs of drug activity in their neighborhoods, such as pill canisters laying around, batteries, and dead grass. Major Derrell Smith says combined, these are some of the signs indicating a possible meth operation.

Balke says he's already evicted some residents, but he feels police should stop illegal activity so it wont become widespread.

"I can't put up with it because I have my obligation to the other residents to not let that type of thing go on in our community."

He's hopeful the officers are listening.

"I can never be sure. I can only be sure as time goes on and I see results."

Results that will clean up a community infested with crime.  

Younger says on top of a police shortage, another challenge is the large number of new officers in the department. He says it takes about three years for a new officer to get up to speed. But he does encourage residents who have a bad experience with a cop, to report the officer's name to him. Otherwise, he says he will never know.

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