Leaders call for renewed Gang Task Force - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Leaders call for renewed Gang Task Force

September 25, 2007

Albany --  The Mayor, City Manager,and Police Chief say Albany needs a gang Task force to combat a recent wave of gang violence.

WALB News learned today the old gang task force was disbanded a year and a half ago.

City leaders say it wasn't a priority while the Police department struggled to fill dozens of vacancies.

Last week's shooting of a 17-year-old Monroe High School honor student in his grandmother's yard changed their minds.

City officials say they can see the signs of gang activity growing in Albany. The Mayor, City Manager, and Police Chief met this morning, to look for immediate ways to take the streets back from violent gangs.

Mayor Dr. Willie Adams said, "the issues of possibly moving up the curfew, and also the possibility of creating what we call a Gang Task Force. Which would be specialized officers to address just the gang activity in the city."

Following Wednesday's shooting of Dearious Williams in his grandmother's Gillespie Avenue yard, Albany Police assigned Officers who had volunteered for the SWAT unit to patrol neighborhood's known for gang activity.

City Manager Alfred Lott said, "that saturated those areas this weekend with 12 police officers, all after the same thing."

Officers were worried that the shooting might spark revenge violence. Today officials talked about moving the curfew for young people back to ten PM, and getting all law enforcement in Albany to work together to put together a permanent Gang Task Force unit.

Lott continued, "we need the D.A.'s office on board with us. We need the Sheriff's Department. We need to work close with Dougherty County Police, because gangs don't know any boundaries."

The Mayor and City Manager say they will discuss with City Commissioners using city reserve funds to pay for the formation of the Gang Task Force.

Mayor Adams says gang violence has to be put down by lawmen now. "No doubt about it, this is the number one item on our list of things to do, and that's public safety."

The City Manager says Albany Police will continue their stepped up patrols in gang areas, while they work quickly to put together a Gang Task Force made up from all the local law enforcement agencies.

Investigators continue to interview suspected gang members about last week's shooting and say they're getting information on new gang leaders in the city.

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