Pop-up BBQ works to bridge gap between Albany PD, community

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As law enforcement continues to be a subject of controversy across the country, Albany police are hoping to create positive relationships with their community.

A barbeque was held at the corner of Lark Street and Clinton Avenue Thursday night.

“When you look around, you see residents, you see community activists, you see officers, and everyone’s having a good time,” Karen Johnson, of North Albany, said.

It’s known as community policing: Albany officers and community members learning about each other on a personal level.

“Every police officer, who may not live in Albany, but gets to know a community member differently than the way they get to know them during a call,” Johnson said. “It makes a difference.”

“We have to work together,” Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox said. “We can’t be us versus them. We have to be one community.”

Cox said part of working as a community is engaging with kids at an early age.

“We really need to make sure we’re winning over our youth and winning over our kids,” he said.

Kids like 12-year-old Shamiah Darden.

“I used to be scared around them, but now, like, I see that they’re more nice, more fun, so I feel, like, more comfortable around them,” she said.

And working together with kids and adults will ultimately help keep communities safe, according to Cox.

“Public safety is more than us enforcing laws,” he said. “Public safety is us getting to know the community, working together and solving problems as they pop up.”

But Cox knows community events won’t stop police shootings or crime altogether.

“This is about engagement, and this is about making sure we’re working together,” he said. “And when bad things happen, we make sure that we all connect and understand what actually happened.”

By doing so, Cox and Johnson feel perceptions can change.

“We treat each other differently when we can see each other as humans,” Johnson said.

Albany police plan to hold another community barbeque on August 24 at Sunset Park.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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