Town Hall meeting addresses citizens about gang graffiti and activity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Town Hall meeting addresses citizens about gang graffiti and activity

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May 26, 2007

Albany --  Albany city leaders are working extra hard to rid the city of area gangs. Not only do these gangs breed crime, they also deface the community with their graffiti.

You don't have to travel far into Albany to find gang graffiti symbols spray painted throughout various sections of city.  Odds are you have seen the works of vandalism on your way to work, outside of public places, or even in your own neighborhood.

But while the issue may just be a visual nuisance to some, the crime that is often associated with gang activity can place a serious hurt on communities.

With recent gang related crime making headlines and terrorizing local neighborhoods it is seen as much more than just spray painted vandalism.

"One of the reasons why we are concerned about this is because it has affected neighborhoods. For example, if you are trying to increase economic development, you are certainly not going to get a business to come to a city where you see a lot of graffiti and gang activity," says Albany City Commissioner First Ward, J. B. Howard.

Economics and business aside, gang activity takes a toll on local neighborhoods by increasing crime and violence. But according to the police, community involvement, such as town hall meetings have proved successful in reducing gang activity in the past.

According to Albany Police Lt. James Williams, "The way we reduced gangs in Dougherty County was by community involvement. It wasn't about the police, it wasn't about what we were doing out there, it was about the community getting involved and them notifying us. They held us accountable for what we said we were going to do, and we did that. And we were able to reduce gang activities and criminal activities."

But many Albany residents like Terrence Jordan and his wife, just want the peace of mind their community and their children are safe.

"I just want to be normal and live a normal life. We do not need gangs, we have family."

The police stress that it will take a proactive approach from the community to prevent gang violence and vandalism such as graffiti.

If you have any information on gang activity such as graffiti or you notice shoes hanging on power lines, you're asked to call Albany Police at 431-2132.

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