ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — According to Albany Police, so far in 2020, there have been 117 people shot in the city of Albany. Most recently, there were six people shot in a 48-hour time frame. Of the 117 who have been shot, 11 have died from their injuries.
While some city leaders have said the uptick in gun violence is linked to COVID-19, Greg McGee, President of the Albany Police Officers Union told NEWS10 ABC it’s much more than that.
“It is gang violence. It’s gangs in the city of Albany fighting each other. It’s gangs in the city of Albany that are fighting gangs in the city of Troy. It’s all gang related; it’s not COVID-related. It’s a scapegoat. To blame it on COVID just shows the poor leadership here that we have in the city of Albany,” said McGee.
He said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan needs to do more to keep teenagers out of gangs.
“Under her leadership, as the ultimate Chief Executive Officer for the city of Albany, our violence is spiraling out of control,” said McGee.
He said the Mayor also needs to support her officers and work harder to advocate to change bail reform and the Raise the Age law.
“Start acknowledging the fact that we are so understaffed, we are so overworked and we are doing the best that we absolutely can, but the laws are actually enabling the criminals now to win over law enforcement,” said McGee.
He said it’s discouraging for the officers who work hard to make arrests to then sit back and watch the alleged offenders be released. He added that many of them are young, and when it comes to Raise the Age, the criminals know how to work the system.
“To have a 16-year-old shoot somebody, to encourage him and entice him when he’s in that gang to do that because well hey I’m 21, if I shoot someone I could face state prison, but if you do it and you’re 16, they’ll put you in family court and be more lenient,” said McGee.
He said the new discovery rules requiring officers to divulge witness names and information does not help them, either, as it deters people within the community from speaking up and providing helpful tips and information that could potentially lead to an arrest.
David Galin with the city of Albany responded to the full statement McGee posted on social media and said:
“Once again, Greg McGee’s statement reflects his lack of civics comprehension because he continues to lay legislation at the feet of Mayor Sheehan and Chief Hawkins, neither of whom are legislators. Greg McGee says that the Mayor has abandoned the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence but last I checked, Mayor Sheehan lives on First Street in Arbor Hill and Greg McGee lives in Colonie. It also appears that Greg McGee is stating that he’s witnessing crimes – why isn’t he taking enforcement action against the individuals he’s referring to? Mayor Sheehan’s investments in the Albany Police Department speak for themselves.”
Meanwhile, with county-wide jurisdiction, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple is trying to help curb the violence. He’s been sending two dozen deputies a day to the city. An Albany officer and a deputy have been riding in tandem in the same vehicle, but the Sheriff told NEWS10 it’s time to separate them and saturate the area with more patrol cars.
“How many shootings need to occur? How many bodies need to pile up before we take it to another level? It’s time we get in there and saturate the city. Some people will say we don’t need more police, well give us your solution then. Tell us what you think we need, and we’re more than happy to work with you, but right now, we need more police,” said Sheriff Apple.
However, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said he does not necessarily agree with an approach that could do more harm than good.
“This community is already dealing with a lot of trauma, particularly the minority community, and I’ve seen it over my career where the impulse when we see an uptick in crime in our minority communities is simply to flood those communities with police officers and have this hardcore approach to addressing it. That has failed miserably over the years. What has happened when that approach is taken, is it causes division in our communities,” said Chief Hawkins.
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