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Albany Common Council Holds Public Hearing With Police Chief Appointee Tonight

Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s appointee to head the Albany Police Department meets Common Council members and the public tonight at City Hall before lawmakers vote on his nomination.

In late July, Eric Hawkins told local reporters his approach to policing encompasses a "holistic" one, working hand-in-hand with the officers, the police union and the community.

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Credit WAMC photo by Will Anderson
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(July 30, 2018) Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan introduces Chief Eric Hawkins, her choice to lead the police department.

Several councilors are looking forward to this evening's sessions. Dick Conti represents the 6th ward:   "There are several challenges the new chief will face, so I think it’s important that we have someone on board and in charge of the department as soon as possible. At tonight's council meeting, I'd like to explore further with Chief Hawkins his philosophy and approach to policing and public safety issues, as well as building strong partnerships and working relationships with the community. I do anticipate that I will be supporting Chief Hawkins at tonight's council meeting and voting to confirm the appointment."

Third ward councilwoman Joyce Love says she welcomes the new Chief of Police and believes the majority of the panel will vote for Hawkins' confirmation.    "I have one burning question for him. There was a shooting yesterday in the third ward, and as a councilmember, I would like to see him put some type of policy and procedure together to notify the representative of the ward the shooting happened in, because right now I'm still trying to figure out what went on in my ward."

Love hopes the programs Hawkins implemented in Michigan will work here in New York.  Seventh ward councilor Cathy Fahey is an advocate of community policing.   "One of the things I'll talk to him about are his plans for policing here in the city of Albany and what he thinks about the type of policing we've been doing."

Councilor Owusu Anane says neighbors in his 10th ward have given him "mostly positive feedback on the new police chief."   "I believe that our new police chief through his experience has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of community policing, which is crucial to addressing the criminal justice issues in our city. Chief Hawkins will be the first chief in many years to actually live in the city of Albany, which means that he has a direct investment in the success our city's policing initiatives. For these reasons, I offer my full support of appointment of Eric Hawkins to serve as our city's next chief of police."

15th ward representative Tom Hoey notes Hawkins has an impressive set of credentials. "He seems to be very well educated. I'm definitely in favor. Now what we're going to do tonight is we're gonna have the public safety committee meeting which makes a recommendation to the full council whether to affirm the appointment by the mayor. I did ask that we do both tonight because we really need to get the new chief on the ground running today if possible. So tonight there'll be the public safety meeting and then right after that we're gonna have a special Common Council meeting to either approve or not approve. The feeling I get all around is that they're very impressed with his, my fellow council members are very impressed with his background. I mean there is some feedback that 'he's not from Albany, he's not moving up from the department,' but one of the positive things I've heard is a statement he made that the next chief will be from within the department. He's gonna make sure they're trained and when he's ready to retire somebody else from Albany will be able to step in."

The chief’s salary will be $145,000 a year.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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