ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents are moving to Albany to work drug and gang-related cases.
The GBI will house their Southwest Regional Drug Enforcement unit in Albany.
The unit was actually in Albany throughout the 80s and 90s but moved to Sylvester after the Flood of ’94.
In less than one month, GBI agents will be right back in Albany. They’ll specifically work on cases involving drug-related crimes. But they’ll also help the Albany Police Department (APD) with gang-related cases.
“Criminals don’t have jurisdictional boundaries,” Michael Persley, Albany police chief, said.
Free to move from county to county.
But as Persley pointed out, law enforcement officers are bound behind drawn lines.
“Having a state resource come in to work with us and help us out, will cause us to have our reaches beyond our jurisdictional area,” Persley said.
The Southwest Regional Drug Enforcement unit will be across from the Dougherty County Jail in the old Sabal Trail building.
“We’ll not only be working drug enforcement. We’ll be collaborating with the Gang Unit here,” Joseph Chesnut, GBI special agent in charge, said.
Chesnut said the unit will partner with other local law enforcement agencies, like APD and the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office.
“In the initial phases, they will detach their officers, deputies or police officers and they will be sworn in as GBI task force agents,” said Chesnut.
This will allow state agents to work to find solutions to the ongoing gang-related crimes in the city.
“Whether it’s drugs, whether it’s gangs, that always includes weapons. So those three things do go hand-in-hand,” Persley said.
Both the county and city commissioners approved the lease agreement. The GBI unit can move in Oct. 1.
If you’ve been to an Albany City Commission meeting recently, you’ve probably noticed a few changes before you even get through the door.
There are officers who wave a metal detector over everyone who goes inside the meeting.
There are also extra officers inside and outside of the meeting now.
“What it is, in light of recent events, we, you know, would rather be safe than sorry about what we do," Persley said. “We’ve always had security here, but we’ve taken it to the extent, just to let citizens know, no weapons are allowed inside during the commission meeting.”
Persley said these increased security measures are permanent.
The Dougherty County Commission meetings do not have these safety measures.