ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany and Dougherty County law enforcement agencies have started a joint task force to deal with the threat of terrorism.
The heads of the three largest law enforcement departments in Albany and Dougherty County say they have always planned for terrorism in the community since 9-11. But now they are ramping up the efforts, to protect the community.
Dougherty County Police Chief Jackie Battle said all local law enforcement has been watching for terrorism since 9-11, but events in the world call for more action.
"It could happen in Albany. It could happen anywhere. We've seen them lately in the news. So we want to be prepared," Battle said.
After the mass shooting in California last week, Dougherty County Police, Sheriff's Office, and Albany Police heads met and agreed to form a task force, to prepare for any terror issue here. "With personnel from all of our departments, who will keep up with intelligence information," Battle said.
Police say if there were an incident, like a mass shooting, local law enforcement would be the first line of defense. "You call it a terrorist. It's a criminal matter. Somebody is either committing an aggravated assault or a murder. Those are issues we have to look at and address," Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said.
The task force will be directed to get all information needed to coordinate with state and federal officials in case of terrorism. And to keep up with current events that could point out soft targets or issues at home.
"We never know when something is going to happen. But of course the more obvious things yes. But the things we have to, we may stumble up. We'll deal with those," Persley said.
Law enforcement heads stress the community can help protect against terrorism, by reporting any suspicious activity to them, and letting police check it out.
Another function of the task force will be to seek necessary equipment and intelligence needed by law enforcement to be ready, in case of a terror attack.