As the tally of shootings continues to climb in Albany, elected officials area calling for action.
Gun violence came up during an Albany Common Council meeting Monday evening – days after shootings went past 100 in Albany and Acting U.S. Attorney Toni Bacon of New York’s Northern District joined with Capital Region law enforcement leaders to declare a united front against gun violence.
"What we're seeing, whether you live in the Heldeberg or you live in Pines Hills, Arbor Hill, this is becoming a city of Albany problem. This is no longer a south or west or Arbor Hill problem. This is a city of Albany problem. And I can tell you this. If this amount of violence was happening in an affluent neighborhood in the city of Albany, this would not be an incident. This would be a crisis."
10th ward Councilor Owusu Anane pulled no punches in criticizing the state of the city, which he labels an "emergency."
"This neighborhood, and as well as other neighborhoods in the city of Albany should not have to accept a weekly or a daily shooting incident as a norm. Even sometimes when there's shootings the news are not even reporting it anymore. We had communication with the police chief that after shootings he would contact council members. That's not even happening anymore."
To date in 2020 in the city of Albany there have been 89 incidents of gun violence, 116 shot, 6 in the last 48 hours. Albany police note that in 2019 there were 37 incidents of gun violence, 41 people were shot. Common Council President Corey Ellis:
"Why can't we station officers at certain locations? The chief popped off that idea, said he did not think it was a good idea. I've called we've asked why can't the sheriff patrol the city? Why don't we need to be with all the officers? The chief said 'Well, they don't know the city,' which I disagree."
Ellis says calls the situation “a microcosm of what we continue to see as council members when we try to hold this administration accountable."
"We need leadership. We're doing what we can do. But the chief needs to come up with better answers than 'these officers don't know the city of Albany.' And we need to see a plan on how this chief is gonna attack it."
For his part, Police Chief Eric Hawkins tells WAMC during times like this, it's important not to play “the blame game.”
"Fact of the matter is, everybody's working extremely hard. Everybody is concerned about what's happened. Everybody has some concerns going forward. But we're all working together, we all have the same goals in mind. And we will get through this."
Hawkins adds recent arrests have renewed his hopes.
"I think that we're you know, we I know we're on the right track and we're ready to move forward. I'm optimistic as we get through the rest of this year and move into next year."