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Neighborhood watch groups meet in Albany

Capt. Danny Ball with the Dougherty County Police Department addressed crime-conscious citizens at the Government Building Saturday. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

Capt. Danny Ball with the Dougherty County Police Department addressed crime-conscious citizens at the Government Building Saturday. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

ALBANY — A group of crime-conscious community residents gathered at the Government Center on Pine Avenue Saturday to learn how to keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe from crime.

The program was organized by the Dougherty County Police Department and attended by concerned citizens, neighborhood watch members, police officials and safety product vendors.

“Unfortunately, we don’t live in a day and time where you can keep your doors unlocked,” said Capt. Tom Jackson with the Dougherty County Police.

Jackson said the idea for the program was sparked in part by Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, who suggested one or more community sessions could unite citizens against crime.

“We’ve invited all the neighborhood watch groups and have some of the safety vendors with information on things like door locks, alarm systems and cameras,” Jackson said. “This is open to anyone willing to give tips on keeping neighborhoods safe.”

Judy Bowles, director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, called the initiative “a great opportunity for the community to come together and learn how to be safer.”

“We can only do that when everyone is involved,” Bowles said. “We have to be the eyes and ears for our law enforcement because they can’t be everywhere at once.”

Bowles said about 50 neighborhood watch groups are currently working together to improve their mutual safety.

As a prelude to discussion on neighborhood crime prevention, Dougherty Police Capt. Danny Ball spoke about how to guard against scams, frauds and identity theft. Ball suggested everyone thoroughly shred all documents containing information on bank accounts, social security numbers and the like before discarding them in the trash.

The reason, Ball said, is to prevent “dumpster divers,” from searching through trash for the records. Ball said that Georgia has the fourth highest rate of identity theft in the nation.

For information on future crime-prevention programs call the Dougherty County Police at (229) 430-6600 or Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful at (229) 5257.