Albany working on solution for police shortage

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The lack of officers patrolling the streets of Albany was a hot topic at Wednesday’s event on community policing.

In a meeting held by neighborhood group, A Block at a Time, residents looked for a solution on how to retain cops.

For Antoine Johnson, retainment means having seasoned officer’s patrolling the more dangerous areas.

“I was in the military, so I know what it’s like. When you go through a training and into the field, it’s totally different,” Johnson said.

Union contracts allow senior officers to choose what area of the city they’d like to patrol. Johnson said this is concerning.

Despite concern of whether there’s enough officers on the street, Mayor Kathy Sheehan said it’s not a public safety concern.

Right now, the police academy can only train 20 recruits at a time. Chief Eric Hawkins said he has a plan to nearly triple that size come Spring of 2020 with a new facility.

Though the police union said the recruitment issue all comes down to money.

“When you look at the other agencies in the area, we haven’t kept up in years with the pay raises, the percentages, the things of that nature,” said President of the Albany Police Union Gregory McGee.

Something that’s an ongoing debate between the city and the union.

“We cannot unilaterally provide pay increases to try to retain people it’s something that has to be negotiated,” said Sheehan.

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