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Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins suggests he will not leave for Ann Arbor post

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins
Dave Lucas
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins, a finalist for Chief of Police in Ann Arbor, Michigan seems to be backing away from taking that job. 

Hawkins told WAMC Wednesday he's leaning toward staying put after interviewing in Ann Arbor days earlier. “I've been Albany police chief for five a little bit over five years now," Hawkins said. "And I'm the second-longest serving police chief in the last 43 years in the Albany Police Department. The average tenure for the police chief in Albany is somewhere around three years. And, you know, so it's been a great ride. It's been a great experience. And I love serving the folks in this community. But you know, the fact that matter is like, like all chiefs, all executives, you know, sometimes we, you know, we get offers to compete at other places, and sometimes you do, and sometimes you don't, you know, this is one of those cases where I did, you know, I get, you know, I get these inquiries, probably once a week."

Ann Arbor may be a tough nut to crack. The city has been without a police chief since the summer of 2022 when Michael Cox was appointed the 44th Police Commissioner of the Boston Police Department by Mayor Michelle Wu. The last round of four candidates Ann Arbor vetted over the summer failed to pass muster.

Albany 15th ward Common Councilor Tom Hoey chairs the council's Public Safety Committee. He’s not surprised that Ann Arbor has reached out to Hawkins and thinks a move makes for a logistical fit. "Their population is around 138,000. So a little bit larger, 25% larger than Albany, but it's a very similar city. And I think, you know, if they do offer it to him, I think it would be a good move for him. I know he has grandchildren in Ann Arbor. And, you know, a lot of times you'd like to be close to your family," said Hoey.

The current crop of candidates, including Hawkins, were interviewed in separate sessions last week by city councilors and Ann Arbor’s Police Oversight Commission (the equivalent of Albany's Community Police Review Board).

 The four prospects were grilled on various topics including mental health, transparency, unjustified use of force and implicit bias. Hawkins, a Michigan native who took over the Albany department in 2018, told councilors that stress was the first thing he tackled when he landed in Albany, upgrading the police department's gym facilities to give officers a release valve and launching a therapy dog program to "reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace."

"We ended up creating one of the first formal therapy dog programs in the entire country," Hawkins said. "One that was that was recognized in the police chiefs magazine in the police chiefs magazine is a magazine that is published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. So we end up creating this program that was internationally recognized for reducing stress and anxiety in the workplace. But also it served as a bridge builder in the community. Because when you when you take a golden doodle out into the community, I mean, everybody wants to come and rub and hug the golden doodle. And so we get, so we get the so we send them out with our, with our neighborhood engagement officers. And it's just, it's just a bridge builder."

It's not the chief's first time window-shopping for a new job: in 2021, Hawkins was a finalist for the chief position in Akron, Ohio, but ultimately withdrew his candidacy,

 Hawkins tells WAMC he's been on recruiters' radar for some time now, and offers like the Ann Arbor one "come all the time." "This was one I was intrigued with, and I wanted to see, I wanted to get out there and see what the city was like, see what the administration was like, and you know, it's a fine city, fine police department. You know, I'm in a great spot," said Hawkins. 

Hawkins says he "plans on being in Albany," where he has the Chief's position at least until the next mayoral race. Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, is not seeking fourth term.


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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