ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Albany mayor and police chief said violent crime in the city is down significantly since 2020. At a press conference on Monday they noted drastic decreases year after year.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins said the city saw a dramatic spike in gun violence during the pandemic, like the rest of the country did. Hawkins said since then they’ve been laser focused on reducing those numbers.
Hawkins said they have dedicated more resources to address gun violence. They’ve continued their work identifying suspects and hotspots but, he said, the most significant impact has been an increased use of technology, helping them share data more effectively.
Data shows a 22 percent decrease in confirmed shots fired between 2020 and 2022. And that number has dropped even more, between last year and this year they’ve seen a 31 percent decrease, Hawkins said.
There are some things they cannot predict, Hawkins said – like the dramatic increase in violence during the pandemic – but they can have a strategy in place.
“We had a solid plan and a solid foundation and we pivoted and you can see from our numbers that momentum has been gained. We are solid double digit decreases, in all major categories of gun violence and that momentum continues,” said Hawkins.
He noted a concerning correlation between homicides and domestic violence – or some kind of family relationship component.
“We started to see that these domestic related issues, some did not fall within the technical definition of domestic violence issue, but they certainly had some type of family or relationship nexus,” said Hawkins. “It’s really clear when almost half of the homicides that we’ve seen this year have that sort of nexus, it’s clear to me that we as a community can do more to help those who may be struggling.”
He said there have been 13 homicides this year and in 85 percent of those cases the people knew each other.
They shared community resources for victims of violence, like Equinox Domestic Violence Services, Unity House Domestic Violence Services, and Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center.
Sheehan and Hawkins credited the decrease to better data sharing between local, state and federal agencies and the new Albany-based Crime Analysis Center. Hawkins said after they relocated the center to a bigger space and hired more personnel it’s been instrumental in reducing crime. He said it’s the biggest crime analysis center in the state.
Mayor Sheehan said the city is looking at the possibility of passing a law, similar to the ordinance in Saratoga, that bans carrying a licensed firearm while intoxicated.
“Quite candidly, I was surprised to learn that it’s not against the law to carry a firearm while you’re intoxicated, I mean it’s against the law to drive so that’s an area they have certainly highlighted that I think cities are going to be looking at very closely,” said Sheehan.
Sheehan says she wants the common council to consider hiring someone to head a violent crimes task force, so community members can share their thoughts on how to best address gun violence in the city.
Both Sheehan and Hawkins said they want to be more transparent by sharing information more regularly and not just in response to an incident.
Hawkins said they will provide updates on cases when it’s appropriate and share, what he called, “clear and convincing progress” the department has made.