ALBANY -- Dougherty County and Albany political and public safety leaders gave a nod to the service of groups they say are the eyes and ears of a movement to rid local neighborhoods of crime.
In a rare joint city-county hearing, representatives of each government, including the three heads of law enforcement -- Albany Police Chief John Proctor, Dougherty County Chief Don Cheek and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul -- issued a resolution honoring the work of neighborhood watch groups while calling for more concerned citizens to band together to help report and prevent crime.
Organized by County Commissioner John Hayes and City Commissioner Jon Howard, the ceremony was a nod of appreciation to groups one local official described as being "unwilling to stand on the sidelines in their neighborhoods."
"These groups are what community service is all about," Hayes said. "They have taken an active role in their neighborhoods and are taking a stand against the criminal element. They are deserving of our thanks and of our support, so I think this acknowledgment of their service is much needed."
Calling neighborhood watch participants "vital to the public safety effort," Howard applauded the work the group's do despite the work involved.
"It's not an easy task but it's one that is vital and much appreciated," Howard said. "You are the eyes and ears of our police department and you are making a difference."
During the ceremony, representatives of both the city and the county took turns reading aloud the names of the groups that had responded to their request for active groups within Dougherty County.
Local groups recently have stepped up their involvement in both the public safety and political arenas.
The Radium Springs group recently hosted an event aimed at sending an anti-gang message throughout its neighborhood, while also sponsoring a forum for local political figures to discuss potential consolidation of the city and county governments.
In the city, Colonial Village Subdivision in East Albany is organized to the point of having patrols through its neighborhood, with members clad in their trademark blue shirts and baseball caps.
Throughout the city, groups are reclaiming their streets and proving that "nosey" can be a good thing.
"You all are vital in helping us secure the streets," Proctor said. "We can't be everywhere at once, so we depend on people like you to call and report crimes. Your vigilance is keeping us, as a community, safer."
EDITOR'S NOTE: A complete list of local neighborhood watch groups honored during the event can be seen by clicking on this story at www.albanyherald.com.