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City forum set for Sunday


WHAT: A chance for residents to voice their concerns to elected officials, law enforcement authorities and government employees.

WHERE: Albany State University ACAD Auditorium

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday

COST: Free and open to all residents


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ALBANY, Ga. -- To help Albany and Dougherty County residents reduce the area's problems, especially crime, officials plan to listen to the people of the community at 6 p.m. Sunday at Albany State University's ACAD Auditorium.

In the first of four citywide forums the Taking Authority Stop the Violence group will host a panel that includes elected officials, law enforcement authorities, government administrators and community leaders.

"The purpose of the forum is to have all the people interested in the growth and success of the city come together to talk about solutions," said Bernictine Tucks, administrative assistant for the group. "This isn't to be a shouting match or a blame game. We will have officials on the panel who want to hear concerns and act on them."

Without a doubt, crime and violence are major concerns to area residents. Albany Police Department Chief John Proctor and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul serve on the Stop the Violence advisory committee.

"Our Tuesday meetings have gotten bigger and people have been voicing a variety of concerns," Sproul said. "The advisory board and Bishop (Frederick) Williams decided we should have a summit so we can hear neighborhood issues and concerns and help with them."

A goal of the meeting is to put people in touch with the correct officials in areas such as code enforcement, trash removal and criminal activity.

"You voted for us," Sproul said, "come out and tell us your concerns. Tell us what you want done. Residents will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire with about six questions."

This could be the largest community event to stop crime since April when the organizers held a "Crime...Everyone Pays" march downtown. In that march, community officials, ministers and others emphasized that the entire community pays for crime.

According to rally leaders, the loss of job opportunities, high health care prices and the payroll for law enforcement are bills that come due to the entire community, not just the victim of a crime.

The speakers from the Stop the Violence board, such as Bishops Victor Powell and Frederick Williams and others, asked people at the march to remember that no matter what a person's race is, it is all one community.

The Stop the Violence organization holds meetings at 10 a.m. Tuesdays at the Gethsemane Worship Center, 529 10th Ave.

Other forums are planned for other sections of the city -- south, Aug. 30; north, Sept. 27; west, Oct. 25. Locations and times are to be determined.