A community forum brought activists, citizens and police together in Albany Tuesday night. Community policing involves assigning specific officers to serve specific neighborhoods, engage residents and cultivate a community-based effort to stop crime.
It was a full house at Milne Hall on UAlbany's downtown campus, the event jointly presented by city police and the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee.
Assistant Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox opened the evening gathering by detailing the history of local community policing, explaining the framework and logistics of city police department operations.
Albany is the only city in New York State with a community policing program in place. Cox contends it's not a program -" it's a philosophy."
The night of engagement was punctuated with love, hate, comments and questions. The audience, a mix of activists, students, elected officials and ordinary citizens, bantered back and forth with Cox. Winell Jones is a member of the Community Coalition For Safe Engagement, formed after the Travyon Martin-George Zimmerman verdict.
Many attendees complained they had yet to meet their neighborhood officers. All seemed to agree that the rapport between police and citizens in Albany is better than it has ever been; accolades counterbalanced criticisms.
Councilwoman Leah Golby joined residents calling for traffic safety; Alice Green touted her recent Center For Law and Justice report, which assessed Chief Steve Krokoff's leadership role in bringing community policing to the city. Cox assured Green her report has been read and is being acted on by the department.
Cox pointed out that more than 1,100 people representing an ethnically diverse cross-section of the community have signed up for the November police exam, but admitted there are a limited number of new positions opening up on the 342-member force.