Albany Police Department Gang Unit Capt. Wendy Luster outlines the city’s gang problem at the Exchange Club of Albany’s Friday luncheon meeting.
ALBANY, Ga. -- There are four main gangs operating in Albany, but each one has splinter groups, Albany Police Department Gang Unit Capt. Wendy Luster told an Albany civic club Friday.
Luster spoke at the Exchange Club of Albany's luncheon meeting to outline the gang problem for the club membership. Luster grew up in Albany and lamented the changes she has seen.
"I'd like for Albany to still be the Good Life City," she said, "but unfortunately we do have gangs."
In 2011, the Gang Unit made 469 arrests, including non-gang-related arrests, Luster said. The unit has made 350 arrests so far this year and is on track to probably arrest 450.
The saggy pants law, which allows officers to arrest anyone wearing pants low enough to expose their underwear, is a great help in the fight against gangs, Luster said.
"Thank God for the saggy pants law," she said. "We have to have probable cause to stop someone, but if their pants are sagging we can stop them for that."
Once stopped for the public indecency, police have been able to turn up outstanding warrants, drugs and other violations on saggy-pants suspect, Luster said.
Once they have a suspect in hand, Luster said, the gang unit has been able to connect dots leading to gang organizations such as the Bloods, Crips, Black Gangster Disciples, Rattlers and various splinter groups.
Although gang activity may seemed to have slowed down, Luster said, the holidays are prime initiation time.
With the holiday season, residents can expect gang-related initiation holdups, burglaries and other crimes to be attempted. Part of the way to stop the crimes is for residents to be alert and report their suspicions.
"A great deal of solved gang cases have come from citizens who have talked to us," Luster said. "This is our city, and we cannot allow these people to take it from us."