Albany police and community meet in wake of Michael Brown, Eric Garner decisions
Just hours after a Staten Island grand jury ruled there were no grounds to indict a white police officer in the killing of an African American man, Albany’s elected officials, community leaders and members came together to discuss ways to improve policing in the capital cities minority communities.
There was a palpable tension in the packed room at the Arbor Hill Community Center. The meeting was originally organized by Albany Common Councilors Dorcy Applyrs and Kelly Kimbrough in response to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, but Wednesday’s events in New York City added an extra level of urgency.
“We knew in general there would be some level of tension and frustration. And so wanted to do our best to make sure we created an environment in which men feel comfortable talking about their experiences but at the same time do so in a way that would not result in a negative conversation,” said Applyrs.
Applyrs says it was important that the meeting opens a dialogue that can be continued, which is why Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff and several members of the department were in attendance.
“A community that has trust and faith in its police department is much more likely to police itself and you actually get a better end result than policing it on your own,” said Krokoff.
The meeting had a few moments where tension and anger was vented at the police, other community members and the criminal justice system. But Alice Green, executive director for the Center for Law and Justice in Albany says New York’s capital city is actually on better footing than some other communities.
“We have community policing here in Albany and I think that police realize that there’s a real problem and they they’ve been working with the community to change that relationship,” said Green.
Everyone agreed that the lines of communication had to honest and open for a cultural shift in policing to work. Police Chief Krokoff even made a point of giving out his personal cell phone several times during the meeting.