District Attorney Greg Edwards states that he will prosecute gang members to the fullest extent of the law at a news conference including Dougherty County school officials and law enforcement representatives from all areas of Dougherty County.
ALBANY, Ga. — Responding to the Sunday murder of a Bloods gang leader, local law enforcement officials say they are ready to protect the community.
Their message to the community is to remain alert, but feel safe to carry out normal activities.
The law enforcement muscle comes from city and county police, school police and college police.
Leading a Friday morning news conference in the APD Law Enforcement Center, Albany Police Chief John Proctor emphasized police are following leads on the case and are taking other measures to protect residents.
“We will do all that we can legally do to safeguard the community,” Proctor said. “That needs to be known.”
Proctor said every officer in his command and the entire law enforcement community stands on high alert after the Rattler gang shootings Sunday that killed 24-year-old Dontavious Luke and wounded five others.
The Labor Day weekend activities such as high school football games and the Albany State University game would be closely watched as a safety measure, police assured.
“It is going to be safe. We have instituted proactive actions,” said Dougherty County School System Police Chief Troy Conley. “There will be zero tolerance for anything out of the norm or along the lines of what is not tolerated. Measures will be taken.”
Conley and other law enforcement leaders from every organization in the area including the District Attorney’s Office, attended the news conference to add weight to Proctor’s message, “All the folks that need to be arrested, will be arrested. We need for this to stop.”
Proctor pointed out that police cannot be everywhere and that residents can help fight gangs. He continuously stated that if anyone sees anything suspicious they should call the police.
“If you see something, say something,” Proctor said. “We can’t act unless you share with us. Police can’t stop it by themselves; the Sheriff can’t stop it by themselves. We need your help.”
When more arrests are made, District Attorney Greg Edwards said he will see that those participating in gang activity will be charged for their crimes as gang members. That charge would add as much as 15 years to a sentence on top of sentences for the underlying crimes such as assault, robbery or any illegal act.
Gangs typically recruit at schools. This, along with concerns about gang activity at football games and other Labor Day activities, is what led to the inclusion of Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree and his police.
Murfree assured residents that schools are safe and that steps are being taken to keep them safe when they reopen Tuesday.
“When there is a code red at a school it doesn’t mean the school, it means the community,” Murfree said. “We lock ourselves in and we lock others out.”
As of Friday four people were in Dougherty County Jail connected with the Sunday killing: Danny Wilkerson Jr. of Thomasville, Kelvin Drake, Mansseh Skinner and Keith Roberson, all of Albany. Wilkerson is facing murder charges in connection with the death of Luke.
Anyone interested in learning more about gangs and updates on the Albany area Gang Task Force operation was encouraged by Proctor to attend the group’s monthly session each fourth Thursday of the month at noon at the Government Center, 222 Pine Ave.