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Albany Police Chief Discusses Video Of Officer Making Racist Comments While On Duty

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins

An Albany police officer caught on camera making racially charged statements will be terminated.

Friday afternoon at police headquarters, Chief Eric Hawkins showed reporters recently obtained body cam video from an Albany County Sheriff's deputy that featured one of his officers making several expletive-laden racist insensitive comments while pumping gas at Albany DGS on November 1st.

"Late in the evening of Tuesday, November 10th I received a video by cell phone of what appeared to be an Albany police officer in uniform, on duty, making racist comments. The video was grainy, it appeared to be a video of a video and it was hard to establish identity. So the next day, which would have been Wednesday, November 11th, we confirmed the identity of the officer to be David Haupt, a four-year veteran of the Albany Police Department. I immediately suspended Officer Haupt without pay. And it turns out that that video was actually the product of a deputy from the Albany County Sheriff's department. And the video was actually originated on November 1st."

The sheriff’s deputy has not been identified. Hawkins says the sheriff's office came across the video during a routine review of body camera footage. It was forwarded to the Albany County District Attorney’s office, which in turn sent it to Hawkins.

"Right now its uncertain what that video is associated with. We don't think its associated with any case. So later in the day of November 11th, Wednesday, after receiving even more information, I made the decision to initiate the termination process for Mr. Haupt, and that process has been ongoing since that day."

Hawkins adds he'll see to it Haupt never wears an Albany Police Department badge again.

"You know there's no place in society and certainly no place within the police department for racist hateful conduct. And when wee it in police departments, law enforcement leaders have an obligation to stand up, call it what it is, and take the appropriate action."

Hawkins says Haupt had undergone all mandatory bias training and recently completed racial harassment, diversity and workplace violence training.

The Albany Police Officers Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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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