Police warn of gangs as school starts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Police warn of gangs as school starts

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Dougherty County Schools open on August 5th, and the Albany Police Gang Unit says in those first days of class gangs are often most active.

Gang unit investigators are urging parents to talk to their kids now to make sure they stay clear of gangs.

Albany Police Gang Unit says they will be very visible around schools. They say parents should also be very involved as their kids return to school.

Gang unit officers say those first couple of days of the school year are often when gangs are busy recruiting new members, and they want to keep kids from gang influence.

"[It's] absolutely important," says Albany Police Gang Unit Sgt. Ernest Thompson. "We're going to make sure that we are out there. We're going to be hyper-vigilant, visible in all areas, to make sure that the transition from summer break off in to school is a smooth transition."

Gang unit investigators say gangs are looking for kids as young as eight years old, to use them in burglaries or drug sales, knowing as juveniles they will not be punished as harshly. So gang unit investigators are urging parents to be aware and keep close watch of their kids as they return to class.

"Once they get in school, that's the most influential time for the gang members to get to them," says Thompson. "So you have to stay vigilant. You have to constantly stay on them. You have to constantly monitor what they are doing.  Monitor what they are saying, what they are wearing, and why they are wearing it."

The Gang Unit says right after school is often when gangs try to influence kids, so they will be patrolling the streets around schools when the students are walking home, especially in the first few days of school.

Investigators urge parents during the first weeks of school to stay vigilant, and inspect their kids rooms and school bags to make sure they are not influenced by gangs as they return to class.

The gang unit investigators say almost half of gang members in Albany are juveniles and many of them are in gangs because their parents or family members were in gangs.

Their message is stay aware of the problem in the community, to make sure to protect your kid from being influenced by gangs.

The Gang Unit says if you have worries or questions about gangs and your kids, contact your School Police Resource Officer, or you can call the Gang Unit at 483-7631.