ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Violent crime in the city of Albany has been on a steady decline, according to Police Chief Eric Hawkins.
A chart shown during a public safety announcement Wednesday displayed data comparing January to September of 2022 with the same time frame in 2023:
While Chief Hawkins acknowledged the 6 percent decrease, he and Mayor Kathy Sheehan discussed that quality-of-life issues have become a more prominent concern for residents in recent months, including nonviolent crimes and other incidents, as well as specific areas in the city where these issues are popping up more frequently.
“We can understand why the residents have expressed concerns,” Sheehan said.
One of those concerns, Sheehan said, is aggressive panhandling.
“I see them on almost every block sometimes,” said Sheehan.
The mayor is urging residents not to give panhandlers money, but instead to donate to community organizations like food pantries and homeless shelters.
“In order to eliminate that activity, we have to eliminate why people are coming,” she said.
The mayor also referenced incidents of vandalism and disorderly conduct reported in the city.
“The chief and I have spent a significant amount of time on Lark Street, and also the Central Ave. corridor. We’ve listened to business owners, they’ve shown us videos of incidents that have occurred in their establishments, outside their establishments, and it is not a norm that is acceptable in the city of Albany,” Sheehan said.
Two burglaries and an attempted burglary were recently reported by businesses on Lark Street.
“There’s some video evidence that’s been very useful during this investigation, and we think that if it’s not one person, it’s one or two people that are involved in these,” Hawkins explained, “and so I’m confident that soon we’ll have some resolution on those cases.”
Hawkins added that the department has a team of officers who are rotating around the city based on activity level, and Lark Street has been getting “a lot of attention” within that rotation.
Mayor Sheehan also highlighted portions of the recent mental health initiatives announced jointly by the city and county.