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Outside Firm Releases Racial Bias Audit On Albany Police Department

A picture of Albany Police Headquarters
Jim Levulis

A preliminary audit on racial bias in the Albany Police Department has been released. It finds differences in the outcome of arrests based on a person’s skin color further fuels community concerns. 

The audit was conducted by the Virginia-based consulting firm CNA as ordered by the chief city auditor. It also says the Albany Police Department’s use of force policy should be updated to be clearer for officers to know when they can use various forms of force. Dr. Alice Green runs the Center for Law and Justice in Albany. She says the finding that Black people are more likely to be subject to traffic stops and arrests confirms other suspicions and studies.

“They [CNA] didn’t feel that they could place a blame on racial bias,” Green said. “The important thing is to make sure that people understand whether you can actually confirm bias or not, it’s the impact that is the important thing. And certainly people of color have been treated differently by the police department.”

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins told reporters Thursday he wasn’t surprised by the audit’s findings.

“It’s concerning anytime we hear that there are any racial disparities,” Hawkins said. “And we need to know why. But right now we have raw data and raw information that are suggestive of that – of bias – but it’s conclusive. We need to contextualize this data.”

Under a statewide mandate from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Albany is among the communities that has appointed a committee to reform its police department.

“As we engage in the City of Albany’s Policing Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, information from this audit will greatly assist our efforts,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan in a statement. “This audit identifies a number of ways we can improve the collection and dissemination of data to ensure more effective, transparent, and unbiased community policing strategies. It also recognizes the fact that the Albany Police Department has made considerable strides to embrace 21st century policing practices and community policing philosophies, and that there is more work to be done. It is my hope that this audit will assist our Policing Collaborative working groups in drafting actionable recommendations designed to eliminate bias and disproportionate impact in our communities of color.”

“I commend CNA for conducting an independent, thorough and substantive audit on behalf of the City of Albany," said Chief City Auditor Dr. Dorcey Applyrs in a statement. "This audit will lay a foundation that will have lasting impacts on our City for generations to come. Achieving racial justice and equality requires bold action, being uncomfortable, having difficult conversations and tenacity. This racial bias audit of the Albany Police Department is a major step forward in working towards racial justice and repairing relationships between our communities and police department.  The leadership and commitment demonstrated by Chief Eric Hawkins and Mayor Kathy Sheehan is commendable and contributed to the success of this audit. I would like to acknowledge the Office of Audit and Control team, Commander Battuello, Dr. Alice Green, Councilman Kelly Kimbrough and the countless community members and police department personnel who contributed to this audit. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I am pleased to release these preliminary audit findings to the Albany community for review, critique and comment. This audit would not be complete without the voices of our residents. In particular, members of the Black and Latinx communities.”

APD Preliminary Audit on Scribd

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