Business owners want crime to stop - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business owners want crime to stop

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September 12, 2007

Albany--  Wednesday night, downtown business and property owners took their concerns over crime to the leaders they hope will solve them.

Some told Albany Police they've been plagued with break-ins and thefts and they want it to stop. Albany Police says they can't do it alone. They need everyone's help to curb crime all over the city.

People from different walks of life filled the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Albany. They all have one thing in common.

"I still have a truck and a car missing right now," said one business owner.

They're all concerned about crime. Brandi Dismuke knows all about it.  It was a problem for her insurance business on Jackson for years.

"We've dealt with theft of air conditioning units there, just vast break-ins where they would just bust the door in," said Dismuke.

They relocated to Monroe three weeks ago. Crime has already followed. "We had been there three days and just overnight it was stolen," said Dismuke.

Much needed gardening items were just taken away in the night. She and others want help from police to stop thieves from taking advantage.

"They know that they've got plenty of time because they're not being watched," said Dismuke.

"A number of business owners have expressed some concerns about crime," said Albany Police Chief James Younger.

Albany Police Chief James Younger understands the concerns but says crime is actually down in the downtown area.  Albany Police came up with a small area map considered as downtown.  But business and property owners expressed concern that crime is crossing those lines.

"Downtown is much broader than what we initially looked at so we are going to redefine where downtown is," said Younger.

Chief Younger did assure them that actions have been taken to curb crime. Two officers now patrol the area by foot or bike. "We've also had our special operations unit in the downtown area on mounted patrol as well as ATV's," said Younger.

Soon, technology could assist those officers with keeping downtown safe. The city is looking at installing a mobile communications system.

"They will be able to see what's going on with several camera systems. The police will be able to manipulate those cameras from here, move it around, look at it, be able to focus," said Albany Assistant City Manager James Taylor.

Until then police ask business owners to keep a watchful eye. It will be a team effort. "Until we come together as a community, as the police department, and as the businesses, that's what is going to make the difference," said Dismuke.

Many like Dismuke say more patrols and more arrests would make the biggest difference, one that could come after a meeting filled with hope for change.

People also were also concerned Wednesday night over the time it takes for an officer to show up. Chief Younger says there are sometimes gaps between the time a call comes in and when it's dispatched.

He blames that on a shortage of dispatchers but says they will soon fill those positions.  That will allow certain representatives to take calls while the others dispatch the calls.

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