Town Hall to focus on crime, responses to it

ALBANY, Ga. -- A few top law-enforcement officials plan to discuss crime and the law's reaction to it at a 10 a.m. Town Hall meeting Saturday.

The meeting is part of Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard's monthly meetings held at the east Albany Community Center, 1721 E. Oglethorpe Blvd.

"You are invited to a round-table discussion on property crime, burglary, identity theft, home invasions, larceny, gang activity and safety tips to help reduce crime in our community," Howard said. "Our speakers are well informed on crime statistics in our community."

The speakers scheduled to be at the meeting are: Herbie Solomon, juvenile court judge; Kevin Sproul, Dougherty County sheriff; Greg Edwards, Dougherty County district attorney; Bill Berry, Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit commander; and John Proctor, Albany Police Department chief.

Each will bring their area of expertise to the discussion. According to Phyllis Banks, Albany police spokeswoman, Proctor plans to use the meeting to listen to the concerns and complaints of residents about crime.

"Anyone who attends (the meeting) will be able to hear the statistics about various crimes in the community and how we are meeting the challenges," Banks said. "Chief Proctor also sees a setting like this meeting as another opportunity to hear from the residents and the community we serve."

Proctor's plans on speaking also usually involve tips and pointers on defending against crimes with common sense applications.

Berry proposes to illustrate how drugs serve as a motive for various crimes such as gang activity, burglary and theft. He will also pass on various tips for gaining an understanding of how drug sales can work in a neighborhood as an open-air market.

The idea, Berry said, is that when people know what they are looking at they can better describe the action to police when they report it.

Having people be aware of what goes on in their neighborhoods and reporting suspicious behavior is an almost constant theme among law enforcement in Albany. Prevention is another theme.

Edwards plans to elaborate on what crime fighting operations are at work in the city and area.

"I can bring some information on the methods of operation that we are seeing being used now," Edwards said, "and some general steps that citizens can follow to avoid being a victim of these crimes."

Howard urges residents to involve their neighbors and attend to make comments about safety issues within their community. The meeting will last 90 minutes and Howard usually begins and ends on time.

"I hope that you will adjust your busy morning schedule so that you can participate," Howard said. "If possible please invite other concerned citizens, especially senior citizens to attend the meeting with you."