East Albany Town Hall meeting hears APD Chief

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Police Chief John Proctor might have thought the wolves were hungry at Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard's Town Hall 10 a.m. Saturday after Howard warmed up the crowd.

Howard asked the crowd of more than 45 residents if they thought they were seeing more crime in the city and if there were more police in West Albany than in East Albany to deal with it.

The majority raised hands and grumbled that crime has risen and that their section of the city seemed to take a lower priority than other city areas. Proctor fed them straightforward information.

"Crime is one of those things that is continuing," Proctor said. "We can do all that we can do (as police) but it will continue."

All areas of the city have high priority, Proctor said, but the police have been putting more resources, more officers, time and effort, in the East Albany area to fight crime.

There is more that can be done, Proctor said. Police can't be on every corner every hour of every day. It is up to residents to stay out of harm's way, but make a phone call when there is suspicious activity, he added.

"Don't confront anyone. Just look out the window," Proctor said, "and call us."

In contrast to other areas of the city with numerous neighborhood watch programs, Howard's Ward I has two. That is not enough, Proctor said.

There is a need to join together to take back the city through neighborhood watches and the anonymous reporting of suspicious people and crimes, Proctor stated. The more neighborhood watches in a community -- the less crime in the community.

When reporting suspicious activity tell the operator details so that officers can recognize who to look for. Details such as race, hair style, hat, hoodie, height, weight, color of clothes are important.

According to Proctor, many suspicious people come to Albany from areas such as Mitchell County, Lee County, Cordele, Sylvester and other places. What they do, he said, is "dip in and dip out."

Dipping in they come here to steal, buy or sell drugs and then head back to their homes. They may even stay here with family during their crime activities and then head back to their own homes, dipping out of Albany.

Home invasions have become a hot topic in the city as they have increased. Both Proctor and Maj. Bill Berry of the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit stated that home invasions typically involve drug houses hit by other criminals. They usually have drugs or a wad of money from the sale of drugs.

Proctor emphasized again and again that it takes the whole community acting in their own best interests to claim a community back from criminals.

"Without you all being involved in taking back the city and solving the issues," Proctor said, "it is not going to change at all."

Elected officials not mentioned who attended the Town Hall included Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines, Coroner-elect Michael Fowler and Dougherty County School Board at-large candidate Lane Price.