Fighting crime in East Albany: more than police work

The updated East Albany Revitalization Plan lists "Crime in Neighborhoods" as its top goal. / Mary Green

Rev. Samuel Sneed didn't grow up in Albany. But for him, taking care of the city and especially its east side is personal.

“We need to be just as concerned, just as aware and just as proactive as any other neighborhood, and take pride in it," he said. "We want to bring back East Side pride.”

That's part of the reason he's involved with the mayor's new Safe City Coalition.

“We want to take more ownership, acknowledgement, and also be responsive to what’s going on in our neighborhood," he said.

He's not the only one on that side of town who feels that way.

The updated East Albany Revitalization Plan lists "Crime in Neighborhoods" as its top goal, and according to the plan, it's what residents listed as their biggest concern.

The Albany Police Department said those concerns are shared citywide, not just in East Albany.

“We don’t say that one part of Albany is any worse than the other because whatever crime is out there, we know it can affect the entire city," Chief Michael Persley said.

To target crime, the plan calls for six action steps: community policing, combating drug activity, crime prevention training, tracking crime statistics, re-entry program partnerships and youth development programs.

It lists all of those projects as short-term, meaning they should take around a year to implement. The overall revitalization plan is supposed to be actualized in the next five years, but it's unclear at this time when during that five-year period these specific changes will be enacted.

APD said its officers are already doing some of those things.

“Clean car campaigns; we’ve done business watch meetings with the majority of businesses in East Albany, and even going through the neighborhoods," Persley said.

But he added that it's not enough.

“I understand that we have to go further beyond than just the police cars," he said. "We have to get out and partner with other people.”

Persley said some of the city's strongest neighborhood watches are in East Albany, but they need more.

“If we’re not hearing from the community leaders and just citizens who either live in East Albany, work in East Albany, then we may miss out on what their true concerns are," he said.

Sneed wants to see his Sylvandale community join that group soon and bring back its neighborhood watch.

“If a person begins a crime spree, it’s only a matter of time before it ends up in our home," he said.

He said that means changing some of the prevailing attitudes, from "snitches get stitches" to "if you see something, say something."

“It’s still going to take an active community, proactive, in reducing crime to make this successful," he said.

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