ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany’s top cop said Thursday that he does not want to the public to afraid to walk out their door, and if they see something, say something.
On Thursday, Police Chief Michael Persley and other Albany and Dougherty County leaders addressed recent shootings, two of which were fatal.
Persley said we are “Deeply concerned about the amount of criminal activity we’ve seen recently.”
Persley said it was troubling that a small percent of the community is “pushing fear and crime.”
“The gang culture... the gang activity is involved in this,” Persley said.
Persley said some arrests have been made in these recent cases, but they need more leads. Persley also said that more details about the investigation could not be released at this time.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said his office has an “affirmative approach” to deal with the situation.
“We’re going to try to get ahead of this purported ‘gang war,’” Edwards said.
Edwards said that it was not against the law to be a member of a gang. However, Edwards pointed out, it is for those on probation, parole or out on bond. The district attorney said his office’s goal is to find those in these situations who are involved in gangs.
Since she’s been on the city commission, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said the commission’s top priority is “to ensure our citizens are safe.”
“We support our chief, our police officers, and all of these other officers that work with us,” Hubbard said. “The only way, the only way, we can solve these crimes is if we work together as a community.”
WALB asked Persley about the amount of patrols in the areas where the shootings have happened at the news conference.
Persley said APD is doing “a variety of things,” such as sponsoring a summer program.
“We just don’t ride through,” Persley said. “We have been out, and we will continue to be out.”
Persley also encouraged anyone with information about the recent shootings to call police.
[ Albany AreaCrimestoppers: (229) 436-TIPS; Albany Police Department: (229) 431-2100 ]
“This is our community. Do not be afraid to go out and conduct your daily business," Persley said. “Let us go out and enforce the law.”
Both the Albany Police Department and the Dougherty County School System are aware of threats made on social media following the recent shootings.
Both made posts on their Facebook pages ahead of the Thursday morning news conference.
During the Thursday conference, Persley addressed misinformation on social media.
“I’ll tell you this, you need to just stop,” he said of those putting up false information on social media.
A crack down on gang members who police said are currently involved in gang activity — that’s what Edwards promised Thursday morning.
Edwards, alongside other county and city leaders, addressed the fear that has gripped Albany since Saturday, and said he wants to make sure the community knows his office is working to get ahead of what people believe is a gang war.
Along with several violent social media threats against Dougherty County Schools, the DA’s office said they will work to identify people in the community who are on probation, parole or out on bond, and involved in gangs. This includes children or people who come from other areas.
Edwards said if these people are associating with gang members and have special conditions to stay away from them, they will be arrested immediately.
He adds this is a violation and will be the reason why they are arrested. The DA tells us officers will have a record of all of these individuals as they increase patrol.
Bottom line, Edwards pointed out, all violent gang members with records will be off the streets during this time.
Police said there hasn’t been any creditable threats made against any of the schools but they are enhancing security measures either way.
DCSS police said there will be football games on Thursday and Friday nights. Officials said they will have more thorough searches of bags and other items.
They also said there will be stricter restrictions implemented before getting into sporting events.
School police are working closely with the sheriff's office, city and county police in taking proactive measures to heighten police presence.
Officials said they will remain on high alert until things quiet down.
“Once we are satisfied that the situation or concerns have been addressed and dealt with, then that will negate whether or not we make changes as to how we allocate manpower,” said Troy Conley, Dougherty County Schools Police Department chief.
Conley addressed the threats that are circulating over social media and is telling people to not listen to uncreditable rumors.
Currently, school officials are working to identify anyone who is participating in the negative post suggesting things will happen on any of their campuses.
“I want this community to be in prayer, you should always be in prayer, but I want you to be in a special prayer and special seeking for our Lord to answer our need during this time of sorrow,” Hubbard said.
People are ready to get to the bottom of crime and violence in the city as many said they now living in fear.
After the press conference, the community said everyone should rally together and take back their own communities.
“I think it’s distressing, anytime anyone is hurt. Anytime we see violence. Any harm to our community it’s traumatic,” James Pratt Jr., an Albany resident, said.
The recent gun violence, to gangs and two tragic deaths, Pratt said, is shaking up the Albany community.
“It shakes up our ability to navigate society," he said. Our ability to exist. So I think in a negative way, it’s a powerful experience that’s harmful."
The deaths of Quamiya Jones, 17, and Kawoski Newberry, 20, has Albany’s top leaders disturbed — the reason for calling the Thursday morning press conference.
This is alarming to Pratt who has younger brothers around the ages of the victims.
“It makes me want to hold them tighter," Pratt said. “Makes me want to be more compassionate to everybody else.”
The grief and sadness felt all over the city, is even causing pain to Albany’s mayor.
Multiple times, city and county officials boldly stated it's time to take back the streets.
And Pratt believes it’s time to put all boots on the ground now.
“We talk about coming together, but we never talk about what we’re coming together to do. And I think we should come together to have more compassionate, deep loving conversations with each other,” said Pratt.
Police told WALB there are still many pieces of information missing.
They’re specifically asking for anything you may know about two points in the investigation.
The first comes after Albany Police issued a lookout for Jones’ sister.
Quashayla Jones, 20, has four active warrants and investigators want to question her about her sister’s homicide, and Newberry’s death.
Jones is 5′6 and weighs about 132 pounds. Jones has an active warrants for a probation violation, battery, giving a false and marijuana charges.
Albany Police are also looking for information on a Gray 2018 Hyundai Elantra.
Police said someone stole it from somewhere on Julia Avenue near Eva Street.
Officers said the car may be connected to Jones’ death on West Highland Avenue Saturday.
Officers found the car Wednesday.