Gang threats lead to higher security - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gang threats lead to higher security

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April 25, 2007

Albany - Gang activity and the threat of violence lead to tighter security at public schools in Dougherty County. But school leaders vow not to let it interfere with education. They're also working to make sure your children are safe at school.

In late March, school was practically shut down after the threat of a gang shootout near Lincoln Elementary. And just last week someone called police and warned of violence at four different schools, putting them on a code yellow. 

Dr. Sally Whatley said,  "We are always going to work very diligently to ensure the safety of their children and of the staff in our buildings."

For those schools affected, there's now additional security. "We've increased our law enforcement in those areas where there had been a threat of gang activity," said Whatley, "but we just want parents and the community to know that we're going to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our children."

School Board Chairman Michael Windham says he hopes to get other law enforcement agencies involved to crack down on gang activity. "I feel like it's getting very much out of control," he said.  "We need to take a comprehensive look. We need to have some dialogue with the city, county and the DA, to see if there is something additional we can do to see if we can make a dent in the problem."

In the meantime, it's school as usual, so the learning process isn't interrupted again. "That's critical, but at the same time you don't want to take chances," said Whatley.  Windham said, "In our present environment, you have to take everything seriously. We need a beefed up presence in the community." To keep kids safe, and make sure there are no additional security problems at the schools.

Superintendent Whatley says a letter will go out to parents tomorrow about school safety. Also, she says the system is looking into a way to notify parents instantly in case of an emergency.

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