ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany business owner Lerron Lee said that his out-of-town customers are afraid to stay in Albany after visiting his shop for a haircut.
“A lot of my out of town customers, like from Calhoun County, try to get back to Leary before it gets dark because they are afraid. And I understand that because it’s been dangerous lately," said Lee.
That’s why the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce recently sent a letter to the Albany City and Dougherty County commissions.
The Chamber said that crime impacts tourism and travel.
“It impacts internal and external perception. It impacts the present and future prosperity of our community,” the letter to the commission states.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said he’s already responded to the letter but added crime in Albany can’t be addressed until the city adds more officers to their joint Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit.
“If you want to address crime in this community, you’ve got to address, drugs, guns and gangs. And right now, as I stand here right now, the Albany Police Department is missing five officers from the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit. They’re supposed to supply 12 officers. Now you have a vacancy that occurs from time to time, one, maybe two, but that has historically been the story," said Cohilas.
Albany Mayor Bo Dorough also received the letter.
He agreed officer recruitment and retainment are big issues in the Good Life City, but Dorough said his commission has taken steps to fix that problem.
“Just this year, our officers received a 6 percent pay raise. Secondly, the city commission actually has a committee looking into crime and what the city can do about it. Thirdly, we actually have commissioned the firm to do a study to reevaluate our department to see how we can be more effective in addressing crime in our community. But, the biggest challenge we have is basically recruiting and retaining officers," said Dorough.
Dorough said he hasn’t responded to the Chamber yet but plans to do so soon.
Read the full letter from the chamber below: