City leaders re-form SWAT; Younger held accountable - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City leaders re-form SWAT; Younger held accountable

July 19, 2007

Albany - - Major changes are coming to the Albany Dougherty Special Weapons and Tactical Team, a squad decimated by resignations and charges of poor management. City, county, and law enforcement leaders met Thursday and came up with a plan to re-organize the team to make it more inclusive.

Until now, the Albany Police Department was in charge of the SWAT Team, although officers from other agencies could participate. That's about to change. Two days before Thursday's private meeting, City Manager Al Lott sent a memo to Albany Police chief James Younger demanding mandatory meetings to improve communication.  

It was a lack of communication that caused some SWAT members to call it quits. Now communication is what City Manager Al Lott hopes will re-build it.

"It would be different," he says.

The difference is a combination of leaders now steering the team, rather than just Albany's Police Chief.

"All parties involved will have an equal ability to utilize that team."

In a letter to Younger, Lott says the chief needs to meet with all of the parties each month...including the Dougherty County Police Chief, Sheriff, District Attorney, Albany State's Police Chief and the Dougherty School System Police Chief.

Lott also lays out what, at a minimum, needs to be discussed including conflicts, crime trends/solutions, drugs, school safety, and homeland security.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis says the different agencies left the meeting with renewed confidence for SWAT.

"That's an outdated, 1973 model that's being in place right now," Crowdis says.

We asked if he thinks the changes will boost morale.

"I would hope so," he said.

As far as criticism of Chief Younger from former SWAT team members and at least one city commissioner, here's Lott's response.

"Chief Younger is a department director in good standing and an employee in good standing."

Thursday's meeting lasted 30 minutes. Lott says that's at least how long Younger's meetings with the new SWAT leaders should last, starting next month.

Lott says he will hold Younger accountable for those meetings. The chief will have to provide written or electronic reports about the SWAT team each month.

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