ALBANY, N.Y. - The Ida Yarborough neighborhood in Albany is made up of a network of high rises and lower level homes, housing everyone from the elderly to families with young children, and was recently scene to a police training exercise.
For almost a full day on March 21st, Ida Yarborough residents say heavily armed police action took over a piece of their neighborhood, and they say it came without warning.
The actual homes used for the training were vacant, but residents are very upset with how the entire training exercise played out.
"I thought a drug bust was going on, I didn't know what was going on. I saw them in full gear and I turned my car back around because I wasn't trying to get caught in the crossfire," said Franziska Garland, from Albany.
Bernie Bryan, the Albany NAACP President said, "The problem is they were conducting this exercise in close proximity to other units that were occupied, and there was no warning to residents."
Albany's Chief of Police said he's directed the department to conduct up-to-date training exercises in as realistic a setting as possible.
Bryan said, "Heavily armed officers descend on an area, they had flash grenades that they were sending off fake blood that they put on the sidewalk." Residents are upset that they, and their children, had to witness these activities in fear that something dangerous was happening.
Now, they say they believe police withheld the training plans on purpose. Bryan said, "And that's our concern, we think they were sending a message."
Garland voiced her opinion saying, "I don't believe it was for our protection, I am under the impression that it was an intimidation tactic. The residents weren't warned, they weren't notified."
After the community outrage, Chief Krokoff apologized saying, "In retrospect, it was insensitive to conduct this type of training in the vicinity of occupied residences. We will review how we conduct our neighborhood-based training in the future and include the community in evaluating its appropriateness." Residents say this isn't the end of their fight against police training in their neighborhood. Tuesday night at 6pm on the corner of Livingston and North Pearl, they're holding a community meeting to raise awareness.
Bryan says the NAACP will hold a press
conference at the Arbor Hill Library at 7 p.m. Monday.