April 11, 2007
Albany -- Graffiti around Albany points to a rise in gang activity. Albany Police have put four additional officers on gang patrol as violence linked to them continues to rise. Two recent shootings and a school lockdown are attributed to gang members who, some say, are running the streets of Albany.
Barbara Miller of Barbara's Flowers admits she has been worried since someone painted this graffiti on the wall behind her Dawson Road business. "I kind of think that is gang symbols. Something that they know that we don't know."
Just a couple of doors down, Robert Taylor of the Lake Park Barber Shop says since he saw the graffiti, he is keeping a close eye on his barber shop. "There is a lot of fear from these little gangs."
The graffiti may look juvenile, but police say they are seeing more of it, and it's a danger sign. APD's Lt. James Williams said "Once we start detecting any more going up, start seeing graffiti, it draws the attention of all law enforcement officers."
Tuesday, leaders with all the Dougherty County and Albany law enforcement agencies, including the school police, got together to talk about an increase in gang activity.
"To come together and try to come up with strategies to work with our youth in this community, to reduce gang activities as well as crime," Williams said.
Last month, Jack Camp was gunned down outside his East Albany apartment in what's believed to have been gang and drug related.
Two weeks ago Lincoln Elementary Magnet School was locked down and field day canceled because of a gang threat at the school.
Tuesday morning a 23-year-old Albany man was shot in the parking lot of the Mabry Motel. He told Police he identified himself as a member of one Albany gang, and he was shot by someone believed to be in a rival gang.
The head of the Albany Police Gang Task Force, Lt. James Williams said they have put four more officers on gang patrol. "To do more surveillance, and to try to apprehend and educate and catch these people."
Police and business people alike think most of the gang problem in Albany is being done by teenagers or younger, and that parents could have a big impact on stopping crime in the community.
"A parent needs to know where that child is, and who he's with, and when he is going to be home," Miller said.
Lt. Williams say the increase in gang graffiti is seen in all areas of Dougherty County.
Police say if you see new graffiti or possible gang activity, report it CRIME STOPPERS, At 436-TIPS.