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Police Chief promotes crime fighting initiative

November 3, 2011

by Jaired Crofut

Police Chief Steven Krokoff and Asst. Chief Brendan J. Cox address the Council of Albany Neighborhoods Association (Jaired Crofut)

Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff and Assistant Chief Brendan J. Cox addressed a crowd at the Council of Albany Neighborhood Association about new police initiatives to fight crime on Wednesday evening November 2. One plan that involves the use of a neighborhood engagement program was met with high praise.

The concept is that each neighborhood around the city of Albany will be assigned to a police officer who knows the neighborhood and is in tune with the particular problems facing that area. Officers will conduct routine visits throughout their specific sections and establish what is referred to as a ‘beat’. So far there are more than 27 beat officers working with the program.

Roughly 30 people attended the meeting help at the main branch of the Albany Public Library on Washington Avenue.

“We want people to have a go to person instead of calling and getting any officer,” said Krokoff.

The City of Albany is broken up into 18 sections under the program and the beat officers are divided up among them. Three officers are assigned to the Pine Hills area.

“Every house in this city has an officer that is assigned to that area,” said Krokoff.

Even though the program has been in existence for more than a year and is still considered relatively new, many citizens have noticed a difference in their communities.

“It’s been a very positive experience for us. The officers have been present in our neighborhood, getting to know people and building relationships,” said Arlene Way, president of the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association.

In addition to trying to develop good relationships with the community, the beat officers work in teams. They hold meetings every week in order to discuss better ways to serve the neighborhood. For instance, if there are tenants in one house who are reportedly too loud night after night, that information will be passed along to the officer assigned to the area. When the officer is out patrolling he will be better prepared to deal with the situation as it is happening.

“I think it’s a wonderful program, it’s what we’ve been asking for for years. We’ve asked Mr. Krokoff’s predecessors, we’ve asked the mayor, and we’ve had absolutely no response,” said Daniel Van Riper, a Albany resident from the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association.

However, despite the growing feeling of renewed hope expressed by many, there are still concerns that people will not call the police when they need help. Van Riper said some of his calls to police have not received a response. He said he is worried about citizens with similar experiences.

“My whole concern is that people don’t know we have a whole new regime. We have a police department that is now trying to be a police department,” said Van Riper.

Problems not addressed by the Albany police force in the past have been the subject of intense debate for years. Almost 25 years ago, in a March 1987 edition of Inscape, the Saint Rose newspaperone student criticized  the Clinton Avenue neighborhood for its loud noise and broken down houses.

Van Riper isn’t alone in expressing some doubts about important changes happening in the

Letter to the editor from 1987 expressing concerns about Clinton Ave

force. His concern is that people aren’t regularly in contact with the police.

“There really aren’t that many people who are regularly connected and if they are they might be interested in other things,” said John O’Grady, president of the West End Neighborhood Association.

Concerns expressed by those in attendance at the meeting have not gone unheard. Albany police are trying to implement the use of new media such as Twitter and Facebook to better help emergency responses. Police are hoping to encourage dialogue and feedback through Facebook.

“We are on Twitter, we are on Facebook. Which is something we are looking to push really hard,” said Krokoff.

Since his introduction as police chief in July 2010, many have hailed Krokoff’s management as the reason behind the recent improvements in the city.

“We’ve seen the difference in the last year,” said Van Riper.

There is a lot of optimism in the community about the use of social media and the community engagement program. “I think it is something that everybody is very excited about,” said Cox. -30-

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