The United States Department of Justice will be keeping an eye on the Albany Police Department. Albany’s force is being held up as a positive example.
The DOJ has named Albany Police Department one of 15 departments it will track in an effort to improve policing across the nation, noting the APD has come a long way (from what it once was), now a national leader in building community collaboration and trust.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Brendan Cox sat down with reporters at city hall Thursday afternoon. During the half-hour session the mayor noted the selection was made as part of President Obama's Task Force On 21st Century Policing, which last year laid out recommendations and best practices departments should follow. "That report contains six pillars and a number of recommendations. And the purpose of the task force was really to respond to the challenges that were occurring really shortly after Ferguson and other issues had really caused significant challenges and strifes in a number of cities. And so that task force worked very quickly, they created a report and the U.S Department of Justice is very committed to ensuring that the recommendations in this report are implemented across the country. So they went out and looked for municipalities that were already implementing these policies and in our case many of these were things that this department was doing even before the task force was ever created."
- To download the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: One-Year Progress Report, visit http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-W0805.
Cox talked about steps the department has taken in building trust in community-police relations, from its pre-booking diversion program to implicit bias training to working with citizens when disputes arise between neighbors and officers. "It's not easy to be a police officer these days, not easy at all. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. So we just try to make sure they understand that when things like this come to light, we'll do the investigation. We'll make sure that if there are any issues we'll deal with those. But keep your head up."
Cox downplayed a video of a May 20th incident at a traffic stop in downtown Albany that Black Lives Matter has posted on its Facebook page. The motorist, who was black, was given tickets by an officer who noticed the filming and then told the motorist he was ticketed BECAUSE the stop was being recorded. "You know, I don't think that video tells everything. It's a few second clip. I think that it's clear that throughout the country videotaping has become more prevalent. Which we're fine with. But at the same token, I think some people don't take into account the fact that usually there's something that happened before that video discussion."
Black Lives Matter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Below is audio of the complete press conference, recorded at City Hall.