Officials react to Albany police officer's racist remarks caught on camera

Emily Burkhard
Updated: November 13, 2020 01:43 PM
Created: November 12, 2020 11:25 PM

ALBANY - We're hearing responses from officials in the City of Albany after an officer was caught on camera making racist remarks.

This comes on the heels of an independent audit that found racial bias may exist in the department.

The Times Union published the transcript from a body camera video taken by an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy who was patrolling with Officer David Haupt.

That transcript recounts Haupt calling Black people the "worst f___ing race."

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins released this statement in response:

“I recently obtained a video showing an Albany police officer making racially charged statements while on-duty. The statements were made in an area that is not accessible to the general public, however, this still concerns us all and will not be tolerated. Upon reviewing the video, I immediately instructed our Office of Professional Standards to launch an internal investigation and the officer observed in the video was suspended without pay. That investigation remains ongoing and discipline will be forthcoming. The comments made in the video are appalling, but I want to assure our community that they in no way reflect those of the overwhelming majority of police officers at the Albany Police Department. We remain committed to working together with our community to build relationships, improve quality of life and enhance public safety.”

Dr. Alice Green, the Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice also responded on Thursday.

"This is sort of like the whole theory of one bad apple,” she said. “That one bad apple theory says OK there are a few people in the department who are racist, they're biased but you know that's not the department. And that is the problem. It is the department, it is the system."

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan also issued a statement Thursday:

“Today, I watched a video of an on-duty conversation between an Albany Police Officer and an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy that was appalling and deeply disturbing. It included racist remarks and demonstrated total ignorance of the challenges facing our community. The Albany Police Department suspended the officer yesterday after reviewing the video. This unfortunate incident further highlights the importance of the work the Albany Policing Reform Collaborative is doing. Policing works when officers and the public trust and respect one another. I commend Chief Hawkins for acting swiftly and I am committed to ensuring transparency following APD’s investigation into this incident in order to continue the essential work of building trust and respect.”

However, Green believes if systemic racism isn't acknowledged in the department, those reforms may not change much.

"I would say to the department don't be shocked but start thinking about how you were treating people, the stereotypes that are there inside the department,” she said. “People operate from the stereotypes. If you operate from a stereotype that gets sort of accepted throughout the department you're going to treat the people who fit those stereotypes, as they say, differently."

Green said she reviewed the audit, and she felt a few key details were missing. She said data on the department's diversion programs, information processing and retention of black officers should be analyzed as well.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

Copyright 2020 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Comment on Facebook