Cpl. Brian Covington with the Albany Police Department spoke with Albany business owners Friday about Business Watch, an Albany network formed to combat business-related crime. Covington said that even the larger businesses are sharing information with one another. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Members of the business community learned about safety in numbers Friday at a Lunch and Learn session at a the Albany Welcome Center presented b y the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.
Cpl. Brian Covington with the Albany Police Department addressed attendees on the fundamentals of Business Watch, a newly formed concept for managers and business owners, patterned after the neighborhood watch system of crime prevention. Business Watch members meet once each month at the Law Enforcement Center, 201 W. Oglethorpe Blvd., Covington said, for the purpose of sharing information, raising awareness and training employees on how to recognize criminal activities.
“We have 10 to 15 businesses right now, so we’re starting off small,” Covington said. “But that’s not discouraging. I want people to understand that. As people start talking and telling each other about what’s going on and how the program can benefit them, they’ll want to become a part of it.”
Covington said that even though relatively few businesses have participated in the four meetings so far, the “big box” stores are leading the pack.
“We have Walmart and Target with us,” Covington said, “And Belks too — all sharing trends and ideas. Our hope is to have all the businesses talking to one another because they all share a common goal to prevent theft, robberies, shrinkage and so forth.”
Covington said the program strives to create a successful “watch-net,” which will trap the suspects and create a community of informed personnel to aid in the apprehension of the suspects. An integral part of the watch-net is a crime prevention program called “eWatch,” Covington said, which will serve to alert participating businesses of recent crime activities in their areas and pass on general information including suspicious persons or vehicles to look out for, photos of suspects, alerts on recent crime trends and scams, and crime alerts.
In a program known as BIZALERT, the APD has partnered with Nixle, a national alert based system to to pass vital information to business managers and owners, Covington said. Businesses can sign onto the program by texting BIZALERT to 888777 and following the prompts.
Throughout Friday’s program, Covington offered a variety of crime prevention tips to business owners including how to react during a robbery. While the most important points were to remain calm and follow the robber’s demands, Covington said it was also important to be attentive to the action, and remember three simple words: Look, Notice and Remember.
“Look at your surroundings, notice what’s going on and do your best to remember the details,” Covington said.
Business owners or managers interested in participating in Business Watch should call Cpl Brian Covington at (229) 432-8195 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.