This morning at Albany City Hall, Brendan Cox confirmed he is resigning as police chief to take a position with a national law enforcement guidance organization that has worked closely with the city department. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was at the rotunda for the announcement.
Cox confirmed Monday what started leaking days earlier: he has accepted a new position at the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program with LEAD's National Support Bureau.
Under Cox, Albany became the third city in the country to implement police strategies regarded as "progressive and innovative," which drew national attention when the White House and the Department of Justice chose Albany as one of 15 cities to serve as a model for implementation of the recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Cox told those gathered in city hall it's a natural fit: "I'll be able to not only help other communities, but I'll be able to continue to help the Albany community. So one of the great things and one of the reasons why I couldn't turn this offer down is because I'll still be able to play a role in the Albany community, something that's very, very important to me, very dear to my heart, enabling me to stay near home, make a difference in our community and continue to call this 'my community.'"
Cox's resignation is effective January 10th. The 22-year APD veteran grew up on Wood Terrace off New Scotland Avenue. Sworn in as chief in 2015, it was expected that Cox would move to Albany, but that never happened. He will now be able to continue to reside in Loudonville with his family.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan is calling on Deputy Police Chief Robert Sears to head the department while Albany conducts a national search for the next police chief, whose selection, she says, will be heavily influenced by key community members. "We're still in the very early stages, because we've got a great command staff here that is capable of moving this work forward as we look out. I didn't do a national search when I promoted Chief Cox to the position, which is the reason why I think it is important to step back. There are those who think that every time you have this type of position that becomes open that it's important to cast a wide net and see what is out there. I know from talking to my fellow mayors across New York state that this department is doing outstanding work, and it’s work that is being looked at very closely and is being copied in many places and really serves as an example."
Albany civil rights activist Dr. Alice Green is Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice. She expects Cox's successor will further programs implemented on his watch. "He tried to change the culture of the police department, not just to come in and be chief. He's been making sure that all the officers in the police department respect people. They've done training on implicit basis, procedural justice, harm reduction, all of those things that speak to the humanity of people."
Green added that the community will be looking for a new chief who exudes compassion. Some have suggested the appointee could be recruited from outside what is considered "mainstream" law enforcement. Cox points out that Albany has "an extremely diverse community." "Keep in mind the different needs of each of those different groups within the community, and obviously the transgender community is one of the communities that we work very closely with to make sure that we have policies that were set up to respect the rights of those individuals and also that we kept their voice in mind, as we move forward."
Cox is credited with shifting Albany policing policy into what some call "progressive territory" during his year and a half stint after succeeding Steve Krokoff, who resigned as in February 2015 to head the Milton, Georgia police department. He was appointed Interim City Manager in January 2016.