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Overcoming gangs by organizing

January 17, 2008

Albany - - Albany and Dougherty county community leaders say they're committed to taking back our streets. They're focusing on gang violence by learning what other cities are doing to curb it. 

Night after night, it seems crime never skips a beat in the heart of many Albany and Dougherty county communities. Many of those crimes we learn involve gang members and most disturbing, most of them are teenagers.

"Its kind of scattered but you see signs if you know the signs of gang activity, you see the signs," says City commissioner Dorothy Hubbard.

She says enough is enough. Hubbard speaks of the area's growing gang problem.

"If we get it together from the top, then we'll be able to pull in the citizens who are willing to help out."

So the top came together Thursday. Everyone from the Mayor, to the police chief, to a from county commissioner, all learning how to take back the streets. 

No one gave a physical presentation. They learned by participating in a telephone conference call. 

"What were trying to do is compare notes, see if we can learn anything and go from there," says Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards.

Crime fighters in larger cities like Boston, Tulsa Oklahoma and Freso California weighed in on what they do to crack down on gang activity.

"Id be interested in how they're going about preventing persons from joining gangs in the first place," Edwards said.

Ideas ranged from partnering with community organizations and churches, visiting at-risk students at home to show them someone cares, exposing youth to cultural activities like zoos and colleges, and helping released prisoners get work.

"Once they've been through the system were going to have to come up with activities to help keep them out of the system," Hubbard said.

The ideas seemed to sit well with the leaders here tonight who took the first step in addressing a serious concern.

"This is a good first start for us," she says.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams was vocal saying even just one gang is too many. He says reducing crime and making sure people feel safe in Albany are some of the city's top priorities this year.

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