Gang report says violence down in 2010

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- Of the 500 arrests made by the Albany Police Department's Gang Unit in 2010, 151 were gang-related arrests, according to report presented to the Albany City Commission on Tuesday.

Among the Gang Unit's arrests were three for murder, 52 for gang participation and 31 for aggravated assault or battery, the unit's 2010 annual report stated.

"We have zero tolerance for gangs and criminal activity. The members of the Gang Unit here in the city of Albany are committed to reducing gang-related crime through parent education, community engagement, training, intelligence gathering and community resources," said Deputy Chief Nathaniel Clark.

At a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday, Clark said that didn't mean the unit would be soft on gangs. Instead he said, "We are willing to follow those who choose to lurk in our city, from arrest to the gates of incarceration."

Among the many gang-related criminals brought to trial in 2010 were two Bloods gang members for a shooting in June of 2009 at the Carver Sports Complex pool on McKinley Street. They went to prison for 10 years each, cannot return to Dougherty County and must put in 15 years on probation.

CME Rattlers gang leader Michael Williams was 22 on Dec. 1, 2010, the day he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for crimes such as street gang terrorism during the previous year.

"No one wants to go away for 40 years," said Gang Unit Lt. Tony Moore. "If you join a gang, you will be arrested."

About 89 of the gang-related crime arrests in 2010 were forwarded to the district attorney's office for prosecution. The Gang Unit plans to work on preventing more youths and adults from joining gangs.

"Just because I arrest you today doesn't mean I won't help you tomorrow," Moore said. "The gang problem is not just a police problem, it is a community problem."

To keep the community involved, Gang Unit contacts conducted 115 workshops with 9,500 people in attendance during 2010. That is an increase of 2,000 attendees since 2009.

Community groups committed to help the fight against gangs include but are not limited to the New Jerusalem Neighborhood Watch, Stop the Violence and Parents for a Change.

As Frederick Williams, chairman of Parents for a Change wrote, "Stop the Violence is proud to have worked with your Gang Unit in this past year. Truly they are making a difference in our community. It is about change, prevention and intervention, and they have helped do just that."