ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS 10)–Tonight, local leaders of faith walked with police officers and Albany Police Chief, Eric Hawkins, to help better community relations.
“It’s been a very challenging summer so far, ” said Chief Hawkins. “Anything that we can do to strengthen our relationships with the members of our communities, is a great thing.”
In recent months, the City of Albany has seen an increase in gun violence. To help put a stop to it, a new program called Pastors on Patrol has been enacted.
Four times a week, members of the police department walk with local leaders of faith, taking time to get to know members of the community and asking them what they would like to see changed in their city.
“It’s basically reuniting the community with the police, and letting them know that the police are not their enemies,” explained Pastor Michael Williams.
Today, the pastors and police walked through the neighborhoods of First and Quail and Second and Judson— two areas that have seen a lot of violence over the years.
Marian Brown lives in Albany and said recently, her family lost a person that they knew to gun violence. Everyday she worries about her children’s safety. Often times, she said she keeps them inside so they are out of harms way.
“It needs to stop. It’s not good,” stated Brown.” I wish everyone will keep their kids safe. The best thing is to stay away, stay to yourself, and make sure your loved ones are with you.”
She said she would like to see more activities for local children to keep them busy and out of trouble. She told News 10 that she would also like to see an increase in police in the area.
Chief Eric Hawkins said while there has been added police presence in neighborhoods, there is a plan to increase patrols.
A community collaboration reform committee will begin next week. When asked to share his thoughts about calls to defund the police, this is what Chief Hawkins said:
“What I’m hearing consistently is that people in this community want more police presence. They want to see police officers out here. This defund the police movement is something that would be against what the people in this community want.”
Chief Hawkins said while there has been 3 times as many shootings this year than in years past, over the last 30 days there has been a significant decrease.
“So all of these walks with the clergy. Having outreach with members of this community, it’s working,” stated Hawkins. “And so we are looking forward to continuing this.”