Albany's Safe City Coalition makes progress on strategic plan

Albany's Safe City Coalition makes progress on strategic plan
Chief Michael Persley is leading the group's discussion about the plan. (Source: WALB)
Chief Michael Persley is leading the group's discussion about the plan. (Source: WALB)
Mayor Hubbard authorized the coalition after the high number of crimes and homicides the city saw in the last year. (Source: WALB)
Mayor Hubbard authorized the coalition after the high number of crimes and homicides the city saw in the last year. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Members of Albany's Safe City Coalition discussed their strategic plan on Monday night to help combat crime in Albany and make the community a safer place to live.

The committee was first formed in November due to the high crime and number of homicides the city saw in the last year.

The group is full of people, of all different backgrounds and jobs in the community.

"What can we do to help reduce crime here, improve some relationships? How can we get the community to buy into some issues that may be the root causes of crime?" said Chief Michael Persley as he explained the goals of the group.

Persley has been leading the group in its efforts, working to write up a strategic plan.

The plan has five focus areas:

  1. Increasing access to social services
  2. Promoting law enforcement effectiveness
  3. Leveraging technology
  4. Prosecutorial and judiciary innovation
  5. Increasing community involvement

Over the past few months, focus groups have discussed the focus areas and made recommendations about how to address them. Then work groups got together to come up with plans to execute the ideas.

On Monday, focus group and work groups presented some of their findings.

Pastor Samuel Sneed Jr. told the group he believes some parents don't have a lot of knowledge about how to raise their children.

"Often times with the attempt to try and do good, sometimes because there isn't a whole lot of coverage, they end up raising criminals because they just don't know how to parent," explained Sneed.

Sneed said he believes it would be helpful to create services to help those parents.

When it comes to leveraging technology, the groups discussed adding city wide cameras and using crime fighting apps to keep up with the crime rate.

Community involvement was also an important topic. Business owner Mary Ligon said she and the interim vice president of academic affairs at Albany State University have come up with many ideas to improve the relationship police officers have with the community.

"Just get young kids comfortable in some ways with interacting with police officers," explained Ligon.

Ligon said it would be a good idea to set-up sporting games for the community where officers are on the same teams as some of the youth.

Prosecutorial and judiciary innovation was also discussed at the meeting.

The groups want to look at ways to create more separate court structures. For example, there is already a mental health and drug court. City Attorney Nathan Davis said his group is suggesting to have a court to deal with domestic related crimes.

The group also brought up the idea of working with other cities and counties to promote law enforcement effectiveness.

"How do you take what other communities, people around us, and create a regional task force?," asked Chad Warbington, a local business owner.

Different groups of people made suggestions for implementing the points. All together the strategic plan is made up of 47 strategic recommendations and 118 associated tasks for completion. Then Chief Persley went through and made recommendations and specific tasks. Together the group will prioritize the lists.

"Now is time for us to begin executing. But we still need their feedback, their buy in to make sure we get a good message out to the community," explained Persley.

Persley will present the plan to the city commission in February. Although it will just be an informational presentation, the Safe City Coalition may need the commissioners approval in the future to fund and okay some of the tasks.

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