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Commissioners question perception of police

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July 17, 2007

Albany --  Albany city commissioners say they want- and the people of Albany deserve- answers about the resignation of SWAT members last week. The biggest problem appears to be a general lack of communication between police agencies.  City leaders worry that breakdown could put you in danger during a public safety crisis.  
 
After a series of SWAT team resignations, Albany city leaders are concerned.  Commissioner Jon Howard said he worries a decimated SWAT team could put the public in danger. "If a situation that happened at Virginia Tech happened here, we certainly don't need lack of communication to be a problem, because citizen life is being threatened," he said.

 Meanwhile, Commissioner Morris Gurr went on to criticize Police Chief James Younger's leadership and his general lack of communication with other law enforcement agencies. "The SWAT disintegrating is just a symptom of greater problems, not just with SWAT.  Problems were existing there with SWAT before you got there, I'm aware of that, but the whole SWAT disintegrating has happened since you've been there," said Gurr.

"The whole SWAT has not disintegrated," Younger said.

"Perception.  Number one priority of the city of Albany," said Gurr. "Achieve excellence of police services and the public's perception of the Albany Police Department.  It doesn't matter what the facts are, it's the perception of the public that matters."

That perception is that police agencies are not working together.  City manager Alfred Lott says he plans to meet with Younger, the DCP Chief, Sheriff and County Administrator Richard Crowdis to work on some of those issues. "We're looking into the issue of cooperation with the other police agencies," Lott said. "I submit that it will require some effort on their part also."

"There is no way that we can get around communicating with each other and communicating with our counterparts at the Dougherty County Police Department and even surrounding areas." said City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard.

And if those agencies don't, Howard says they may be setting themselves up for failure.  "If we don't communicate, we set yourself up to be our worst enemy," said City Commissioner Jon Howard.

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