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Albany Common Council Approves Police Reform And Reinvention Collaborative Plan

Monday's Albany Common Council Meeting Via Zoom.
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Monday's Albany Common Council Meeting Via Zoom.

The Albany Common Council voted Monday night to approve the city's Policing Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan.

The Albany Policing Reform and Reinvention Collaborative presented its draft final report in January, containing recommendations aimed at eliminating structural racism and bias in city policing, via public input. With funding at risk, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed localities statewide to finish their reform plans by April 1. Mayor Kathy Sheehan's administration formulated a plan of action based on the collaborative's work.

"Look, I think that this has been a hard work put in by residents and, you know, folks from across law enforcement, the community. And, you know, I think that this was an effort that resulted in the most comprehensive report that exists in the state. It's an actionable plan. And I'm grateful there were five council members that participated in this process. And it's the beginning, this is the beginning, not the end, the goal was to create a plan. And now we have to act on that plan and be as transparent as we can possibly be.'

Sheehan, a Democrat running for a third term, says building trust in the community and addressing structural racism are components of the plan. She says Chief Eric Hawkins shares her excitement about moving the plan forward.

"Policing reform means lots of different things to lots of different people. And we now have our playbook. And we have to look at each of the goals in there, we have to set about figuring out how we're going to implement each of those goals. Some of them are within our power to implement others require changes to either our local laws or state law, but we're going to move forward with the community and move, you know, in a direction that is directed by the community. And in response to the plan that's been adopted."

Ninth ward Common Councilor Judy Doesschate took issue with the final plan, asking why some of the collaborative's recommendations had been left out, suggesting the vote be taken at a later time. She was the lone no vote.

10th Ward Councilor Owusu Anane says the panel determined it had to vote on the matter immediately.

"While it was an agenda that was suspended that we had to make, and there were some members of the council that wanted to see some report from the executive chamber, and they were not comfortable in voting for it. But the majority of the common council were OK with it. Because, again, justice delayed is justice denied. And I think that we have to get this out. We don't want to lose funding, because of a few tweaks. And this piece of legislation is a breathing and living document, right? Police reform doesn't end on April 1st."

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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