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Community Policing forges forward

April 16, 2013

by Kaitlyn Jasnica

More than 50 people attended a community policing forum to voice their concerns about their neighborhood and to hear the police department’s future plans Tuesday night.

Police Chief Steven Krokoff addresses the audience

Police Chief Steven Krokoff addresses the audience

At the forum, the Albany Police Department’s four goals for the future were announced by Police Chief Steven Krokoff. The police department plans to take back the streets of Albany and make it safe for pedestrians. They also hope to strengthen their department to help it reach its full potential, rebuild wounded communities, and strengthen relationships with younger generations.

After the goals were presented, audience members were free to ask questions.

“We do forums so we can try and keep the community aware of what we’re doing. We want to make sure the community’s expectations and needs are being met,” Krokoff said. “The main benefit is a trusting relationship between the police department and community. We are working for our community. We need to work in tandem with our community. If we don’t we aren’t fulfilling our mission.”

Mark Robinson praises his neighborhood beat policemen but questions the younger police force.

Mark Robinson praises his neighborhood beat policemen but questions the younger police force.

Many residents chose to voice concerns and compliments to the chief of police. Mark Robinson, a Lexington Avenue resident, told Krokoff that beat policemen from community policing in his neighborhood are a great asset. However, the department policemen needs to strengthen their regular forces.

“The older police knew me on a first name basis. When I used to have contact, there was a level of respect,” Robinson said. Now, he believes the younger policemen act differently.

“I was appalled by the way I was addressed. They barked at me. I’m 50 years old. Right now, I feel the police comes down on our community and are coming down too aggressive.”

Krokoff thanked Robinson for voicing his concerns and assured him that this is a problem they are already planning to fix.

“There is a next phase, and that phase is a team policing approach. This breaks up the city into six sectors. It’s going to create six teams so it is homogenous as possible so we can approach that as a team and not an individual,” Krokoff said.

Jamere Shelby, University at Albany student, asks Police Chief Krokoff a question.

Jamere Shelby, University at Albany student, asks Police Chief Krokoff a question.

Another problem that the police department face is that college and high school students see policemen as the bad guys. Jamere Shelby, a University at Albany student, said that as a student, she feels distant from the police department and only hears from the police when someone from her school gets robbed, or when something worse has happened.

Another University at Albany student, Paige Fitzgerald doesn’t feel safe in the Pine Hills neighborhood. “I live on the corner of Ontario and Hamilton. I feel safe during the day and on the main streets,” Fitzgerald said. “But you hear a lot about the bad things that happen at night in this neighborhood.”

However, violence has gone down in the city of Albany and especially in the Pine Hills neighborhood according to Krokoff.

“The neighborhood has changed. In East Pine Hills, we deal with more issues with the student population rentals. But those numbers dropped tremendously. Three, four years ago, we took a more passive approach, we experienced problems and the neighborhood association wanted us to have a more active role. The west side does not have as many issues,” Krokoff said.

The Pine Hills neighborhood is not the only thing that has changed in the past few years. The Albany Police Department has changed dramatically from the department it was 15 to 20 years ago according to Krokoff. The department prides itself about being honest to the community and holding itself accountable for its actions.

One members of the audience voiced concern over the effectiveness of the Albany Community Police Advisory Committee, the committee that acts as the liaison between the community and police department. Marlon Anderson, a West Hills resident, said that a police community liaison should be used to further bridge the gap between the community and police department. Anderson believed that having a police community liaison could have prevented incidents like the Ida Yabrough incident. Krokoff responded by defending the committee and accepting the department’s error.

“First and foremost was a communication issue. And that problem was ours,” Krokoff said. “The important thing is when we have these issues, you have to dissect what happened, learn from those mistakes you make, and move forward.”

The police department hopes to learn from each compliment and concern said at the forum. Lt. Michael Tremblay of the neighborhood engagement unit believes that forums will continue to bring the community closer to the police department.

“This forum is an effort to create a better bond with the community,” Tremblay said. “People can voice their concerns about what’s happening in the neighborhood. Complaints come but it also brings compliments.”

The next public forum will be held in July. It will be announced on Albany Police Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.


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