APD Gang Unit to merge with Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Albany Police Department (APD) Gang Unit will be merging with the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit come January 1, 2024.
Albany Police Chief Michael Persley says they are taking the two units and putting resources together under the concept of targeting those involved with illegal drug dealing, firearm possessions, and gang activity.
“Majority of those who are involved in gangs are definitely under the age of 21,” said Persley. It’s the biggest issue that Persley and his department are facing.
The chief says the younger they come, they tend to be a little bit more violent.
“When you have units that are closely married together in what they’re doing it will be beneficial to go ahead and combine them.” said Persley.
In our recent reporting on gang issues faced in Albany and Dougherty County, Travis Luke, a former Albany gang member who served 10 years in prison, told WALB’s Lenah Allen the increase in gangs starts in the justice system.
“You cannot lock up the problem. So, you have to go to the problem and kind of say reason with the problem in order to straighten out the gang activity before it gets too far out of hand,” said Luke.
Persley is calling on partners to assist in efforts to tackle these issues.
“Until they get some additional treatment, and treatment being other avenues, other options that they can get to get out of the gang, they will continue to be involved in it,” said Persley. “When you don’t have hope when you don’t have anything that will look like a future, then what is quick, fast, and easy, you’ll tend to resort to that. And a lot of that has to do with mindsets.”
The recommendation was given through the police department’s organizational assessment by Berry Dunn.
Although the two units have already been working together, Chief Persley feels it would be a better use of resources to combine, using target operations to go after those continuously causing harm and havoc.
“When you have units that are closely married together in what they’re doing, it will be beneficial to go ahead and combine them,” said Persley.
The chief adds everyone will be cross-trained in what they do. Narcotics agents will be trained to do gang investigations, and gang investigators will be trained to do narcotic investigations.
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