Gangs. The word alone brings thoughts of drugs, break-ins, and fist fights. Their influence spreads from grown adults, to teenagers, even to little kids. And in Albany, that influence is growing.
"We have four gangs here in the city of Albany, they're primarily in the central, the east, and the west district which is the whole entire city of Albany," said Gang Task Force Investigator, Garnett Lincey.
From graffiti, to the colors they wear, each gang identifies with a different symbol. The Bloods wear red, the Crips wear blue, the Black Gangster Disciples are covered in black, and a collage of other colors including camouflage round out the spectrum.
"To them, it's just like life. It's just like the air you breathe, it's very important to them. They're not going to let anybody disrespect their colors. It's like a law, it's like a bible, and they're not gonna let anybody disrespect their colors or their flag," said Lincey.
Getting involved isn't easy though, gang initiation can be a brutal experience, so some choose to just be seen with other members.
"When you hang out with gang members, when you spend time with them, ya know now you're guilty by association. If you're hanging out with the bloods and you say you aren't a blood, well, you're hanging out with them, you're always with them, yes you are. Yes you are," said Lincey.
But the real aim for gang task force officers is to prevent the younger generations from falling into that lifestyle, and ruining what could be a promising future," said Lincey.
That's the sad part, something you do at an early age could cause you to not get anything later on in life, and the choice you make at an early age, could be detrimental to you as you get older," said Lincey.
And preventing gang activity of all age groups starts with the public's help.
"Everybody has to do their part to make sure that everybody's okay. Don't wait for it to happen to you, if you speak up when it happens then it's beneficial for everybody," said Lincey.
Officer Lincey went on to say that if there's one piece of advice he can give to kids and parents alike, it's this.
"It's easy to get into trouble, hard to get out," said Lincey.