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Police Chief Eric Hawkins To Stay In Albany

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan looks on as Police Chief Eric Hawkins addresses a crowd during the swearing-in of 19 police recruits at City Hall.
APD Steve Smith /Facebook
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Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins

Up for the top position in Akron, Ohio, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins has decided to stay in Albany.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins announced Monday he is no longer a candidate for police chief of Akron, Ohio, according to a statement released by the Albany Police.

In that statement Hawkins said, “As is customary with police chiefs across the country, a recruitment firm invited me to participate in the process. While I appreciated the opportunity, my heart and commitment remains with the City of Albany.”

Hawkins was one of four finalists. In a resume Hawkins reportedly sent to Akron in April, the 53-year-old said he would be a reform-minded and community-oriented chief, essentially what he promised when he arrived in Albany. 

Hawkins initially told Albany media he did not have an offer of employment from another law enforcement agency and would continue to devote all of his time and energy to the city. He appeared in a virtual forum with residents and officials from Akron on Thursday.

"Akron is very similar to the cities that I've had an opportunity to serve as chief of police. Aggressive, diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, with elected officials who value and promote, indeed embrace these concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion."

Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat running for a third term, had previously said she wasn't surprised that a member of her leadership team was being sought out by another agency. She repeated that view in a WAMC interview Monday afternoon.

"Members of my senior executive team have been approached and continue to be approached by headhunters and by other employers on a pretty regular basis, and I understand that when you have people who not only are sought after locally, but are sought after, you know, on an even bigger scale and have national attention, that that is a reality. That, that, you know, we demand a lot from our employees, we hire really good people, and they do excellent work, and that gets other people's attention, but, you know, I think this focus on this, you know, to me, you know, when I think about the two prior chiefs, you know, they got all the way through a process and had been hired before they told, you know, anyone in the administration or the public for that matter, that they were looking to leave."

The Beacon-Journal newspaper published a statement by Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan:

"I greatly appreciated getting to know Chief Hawkins through this search, and for the thoughtful way he engaged with us and the Akron community. I have deep respect for his decision to remain in his current position in Albany and I wish him the best in the next stage of his distinguished career.”

Sheehan said Hawkins' job search doesn’t mean he’s not committed to Albany.

“I think that one of the things that this process and experience, at least as the chief has communicated to me, you know, has done for him is to help him to see that really where he wants to be is here in Albany. He's excited about the opportunity here, the work that he's doing. You know, this past year has been a challenge for everyone. We have some daunting tasks ahead of us, getting the department back up to full to full force, you know, hiring more police officers, really building that leadership team of the future and I believe that you know, he is uniquely qualified to do that.”

Hawkins has been in law enforcement for more than three decades and served as Southfield, Michigan Police Chief prior to joining Albany’s force in August 2018. He began with a $145,000 annual salary.

Chief Hawkins' full statement:

“After careful consideration I’ve decided to withdraw from the police chief selection process in the City of Akron, Ohio. As is customary with police chiefs across the country, a recruitment firm invited me to participate in the process. While I appreciated the opportunity, my heart and commitment remains with the City of Albany. I look forward to continuing to work with this great community as we collaboratively enhance public safety and quality of life.”

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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