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Albany County Sheriff Assigning 14 Deputies To Help Albany Police Amid Shootings

Sheriff Craig Apple and Albany Law student Elena Kilcullen
Lucas Willard
Sheriff Craig Apple and Albany Law student Elena Kilcullen

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says his department is assigning 14 deputies to bolster policing efforts in the city of Albany, which has been wracked by gun violence in recent weeks. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan asked Wednesday for reinforcements from Apple and the New York State Police, with the city force understaffed by about 50 officers.

In an interview with WAMC News today, Apple said “there has been a sense of lawlessness around the country in the past two weeks.” Apple also blamed the state bail reform measures that took effect early this year for the summer rise in crime, and called for changes to the law.

Well, obviously, it's horrifying. I feel horrible for the residents of the city that have to put up with this. I mean, you've got people coming in and out of the city, shooting it up, like it's, you know, like, it's an old country, or an old country movie or something. And it's, it's scary and It's horrifying. And I also feel for the, in addition to the residents, I feel for the police officers who have to, you know, go out there in a time where, you know, there's a lot of hatred towards law enforcement. And my biggest fear is the hesitancy to pull a weapon when someone else has a weapon, and I'm really nervous. I'm very worried. And that was one of the reasons that as soon as the chief called me, I said we'll be there immediately and this morning, we sent 14 deputies into the city to assist the PD. And let me also make a quick point. The Albany police department is a very professional, very able police department. This is not because they can't handle it. This is just to assist them and hopefully deter future violence. Now, you know, Today's the first day that we're doing it, they're also Albany PD is also short 50 people. So we're just trying to augment the ranks, we're going to ride with them, probably maybe eventually will break off and you know, we'll have some to man's in some solo cars, who knows. But we want to help saturate the city to put the nerves at ease for the residents, and, and hopefully deter future violence.

What will these 14 extra officers be looking for and what will these patrols actually look like?

Well, right now they're, they're black and blue. There are black uniforms and Albany PD blue uniforms and they're in two-man cars, they're out patrolling, let the residents know that we're out here. We're here to keep them safe. What we'll be looking for Well, we'll be hopefully trying to deter violence, let people know that we're out here. Listen, we want to be problem solvers. Right? We don't want to be problem makers. And, and that's the biggest thing. And I think we're all on the same page. We all want, you know, we want peace. You know, nobody wants this violence. So that's their biggest thing is to try to deter the violence and, you know, and work with the communities and hopefully get some of the advocates out there working together as well. But listen, you can't be out there talking about defunding the police and have a spike in violence and have bail reform where people are just, you know, going in through a revolving door. There needs to be some changes. And you know, sometimes people hate to admit it, and they may have been wrong, but I can, I can guarantee you, this bail reform needs to be to a certain extent rolled back There needs to be some changes. And that's why we're having an increase. I mean, what is the ramification? What kind of punishment is there, when you can go out there and do something horrific, and get, you know, either released immediately or released a couple hours later?

Chief Hawkins had said that a lot of the violence can be attributed to the COVID crisis. And just the fact that there weren't as many people out there making the connections and there weren't as many police community interactions over the last several months is do you support that assessment as well?

Well, I think there's some legitimacy to that. I don't think anyone really knows what the heck is going on right now, to be honest with you. I mean, the violence is just it's increasing. It's rapidly increasing and it needs to cease immediately. But I think there's also been a sense of lawlessness in the entire in the entire country over the last couple of weeks, and people can't damage property. Pretty unexpected, get away with it. You can't shoot and expect to get away with it. You can't tear things down and expect to get away with it. I mean, we need to get back to the fundamentals of policing, and make sure that the residents of this county are safe. What is going on is out of control, and it needs to be rolled way back. And you know if we can help with that, that's what we're going to do.

And have you been in contact with state police as well? I know that the mayor had put out the call seeking assistance from the county as well as state police. So I was wondering if you had any dialogue with state police?

No, I have not. I only spoke with Chief Hawkins and I spoke with the mayor. And then I had a couple conversations with the county executive and the chairman of the legislature. So you know, we've, we've, we've shown up, we're going to help. I believe the state police will be sending people in there's a conference call in a couple hours. I think that's what most of it will be regarding. I'm not sure what anyone's numbers will look like but you know, let's We don't want to come in here like, you know, like we're trying to stir up, stir the pot. We want to be problem solvers. We want put st put the guns down. Let's have some peace, and we'll work through this. But you know, I mean, what's going on right now is a sense of lawlessness. And these poor residents in this in this great city, that capital of New York State, deserve better and they're gonna get it.

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