ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 30 new recruits will be welcomed to the Albany Police Department this Friday. This is good news for a city facing the effects of nationwide staffing shortages, while COVID has also slowed down the process of adding new officers to the force.
“We hope to be hiring 30 new police officers every four months. COVID has been a challenge,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “We built a new academy so we could have a bigger class, and then COVID hit and we could only have 20 per class because of wanting to ensure we could keep people safe.”
After what he called an ‘aggressive recruitment campaign,’ Albany Police Public Information Officer Steve Smith said these 30 officers will fill a sizable portion of their vacancies.
“We’re doing everything we can to encourage people to become police officers,” said Smith.
Assistant Chief of Troy Police Steven Barker told NEWS10 while his department, like Albany’s, has several vacancies, Troy is having trouble recruiting. He said the department is working internally on new ideas and programs to upgrade their efforts.
“If or when we do have an act of violence, like last night’s shooting [on 3rd and Congress Street], we typically add additional temporary staffing to that area to thwart any future issues,” Barker said.
Steve Smith said APD is able to fully operate too, despite the empty positions, “It’s important for our community to know that not a single shift goes understaffed. We do have officers out there on the streets, and we’ll continue to do what we need to do to keep this community safe.”
Progress is not only being made in staffing but also curbing gun violence. According to Smith, when comparing this year to last year, Albany has seen a 5 percent reduction in shooting incidents.
“If there was an easy solution, law enforcement would’ve figured it out a long time ago and addressed it,” Smith explained, “but there are a lot of issues, a lot of factors to gun violence, and a lot of social issues, so there’s still a lot to be done.”