Albany police officials are taking measures to correct shortcomings in city protocol and planning to prevent melees like the April 24 street brawl downtown from occurring again, internal city records show.
As many as 200 juvenile and young adults were involved in the melee, which occurred about 6:30 p.m., police said.
“The process by which events are approved and granted needs to be revised so that the principals required to staff and prepare for the events are given greater input and lead time,” Police Chief John Proctor said in an April 27 memorandum to City Manager Alfred Lott and city commissioners. “Too often the events are requested in as little as week or two and may not give enough time to adequately review and make the necessary manning decisions required to adequately prepared.”
It was the city’s first acknowledge that Lott erred in signing off on a downtown street party without ensuring that adequate police personnel in place.
“Upon our arrival on Pine Avenue, the situation was visibly out of control …” Lt. Bobby Leveston said in a memorandum to Capt. Mack Green. “We have to provide adequate personnel referencing events of this nature.
A fight after a Veterans Park block party and rap concert erupted at nearby Turtle Grove Park on Front Street and quickly turned into a widely developed melee, police said. The brawls continued to Ray Charles Plaza across from the Hilton Garden Inn and north to Oglethorpe Boulevard, one block east of the Albany Law Enforcement Center, and north to Pine Avenue and Washington Street.
Five teenagers were arrested and one person was treated for injuries, police said.
Leveston said 10 officers worked the Veterans Park event between noon and 5:30 p.m. Arrested were three 16-year-olds, one 15-year-old and one 13-year-old were charged with disorderly conduct and released to relatives. Police said they do not know the motive for the fighting.
“Sgt. William Dowdell was in charge of the event and advised that one fight broke out, but they immediately had it under control and the Gang Unit took control of the suspect,” Leveston said. “When the event was over, Sgt. Dowdell and other officers cleared the area, took down the barricades and left; however, the juveniles that were at the event went to Turtle Park and started congregating.
“Subsequently, several fights commenced and Officer Haywood responded to the scene and called for backup. Sgt. Cunning and I arrived at the scene at the intersection of Pine and North Washington Street, where there was a large group of juveniles running west on Pine Avenue on the sidewalk and in the street.”
Ten additional officers scheduled to work later in the evening then were summoned to the scene, Leveston said.
Proctor said police are not aware of any weapons used or exhibited during the fighting, but that city-owned downtown surveillance videos are still being reviewed.
Proctor says that he is implementing Lesveston’s recommendation that officers working downtown events be required to report for duty an hour before an event and stay until an hour after the event. Also, Lesveston says that to adequately provide safety downtown, there needs to be two police officers on duty at all times that Turtle Grove Park is open.
Proctor said that he will follow that recommendation from May 15 through Aug. 30.