Is the Albany Gang Unit making progress?

There's some good news in the battle against gang violence in the good life city. The Albany Gang Unit released its 2010 annual report today and it shows significant progress in reducing gang activity.

The Albany Police Department created the Gang Unit in 2008 to identify those involved in gang life and remove them from the streets. Officers say they're proud that in just three short years, they're seeing results.

"Those who choose to lurk our streets, we're sending a clear message that gang activity â" and any other criminal activities â" will not be tolerated in our city," said Deputy Police Chief Nathaniel Clark. He says the Albany Gang Unit turned a major corner last year and that its 2010 Annual Report proves it.

"We started focusing on not only gang eradication but educating the community as to what they can do to make a positive difference in the quality of life," said Clark.

According to the report, the unit made 500 arrests, almost 100 more than in 2009. There were 52 arrests for gang participation, 25 for aggravated assault, and three for murder. "We focused deployment of resources and the takedown of middle management gangs in our city," said Clark.

Nearly half the arrests were made in Ward 3, which includes much of downtown and parts of Northwest Albany. "Some people might say that that's good," said Lt. Tony Moore. "Some people might say that's bad. However, it's productive."

While Lt. Moore is pleased with the gang unit's progress, he says police are limited in what they can do to stop gang activity. He suggests members of the community get involved in some of the many local programs designed to fight violent crime. "Utilize Parents for Change, Stop the Violence, Taking Authority, Strive to Thrive, Second Chance," said Moore. "Their hearts are to change the outlook of the family, the outlook of the youth."

Officers are also taking steps to work their way up the gang hierarchy ladder to further cut into the organizations' criminal enterprises. "Once we affect an arrest, then we go back and talk, whether it's a juvenile or an adult," said Clark. "We get all the information we can in order to move forward."

Do you think the Albany Gang Unit is doing a good job?