Nothing funny about playing hooky - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nothing funny about playing hooky

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty County's Sheriff deputized the whole school system police force to help fight truancy, youth crime, and gangs.

Now select School Police officers will go out on random sweeps to hunt down students skipping school, and get them off the streets.

Dougherty County School System Police Officers patrol South Albany streets, looking for truant students.

"A lot of times they are at friends' homes or walking to the store or whatever, when they are supposed to be in school," said Captain Samuel Hill.

Albany law enforcement, city, county, and school officials held meetings, concerned about youth crime during school hours.

"It has been rumored that there has been some increase in crime in the community that may be linked back to student involvement," said Dougherty County School System Police Chief Troy Conley.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul says truancy and youth crime are serious problems, so he deputized the School Police force, giving them arrest powers across the county.

"We need as many eyes and ears as we possibly can have to help with these youth. And the problems we are encountering today,"  Sproul said.

School Police Officers know how and where to spot truants, and their excuses.

"Most times if they are out walking on the street, they tell you they are suspended or whatever. The advantage with us, we can check with their administration if they really have been suspended from school, or just hanging out," Hill said.

The fear is those students skipping school are working with gangs, being used by adults to commit crimes.

"If we can deter them from being repeat truants, then we can possibly save them,"  Conley said.

If a student is caught truant in these sweeps, they will be returned to their school and face possible administrative action. Repeat truancy could land the parents in legal trouble as well.

Chief Conley says the School Police first mission will be to protect the schools, but officers will randomly be on truant patrol, targeting students skipping school.

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