Cohoes makes history with new police officers

COHOES – At a time when many police departments are trying to fill their ranks, Cohoes police now have six new members, including the city’s first black woman and first Hispanic officer.

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The Cohoes Music Hall was filled with excitement, pride and hope.

One by one, in front of their families, officers were sworn in: Kyla Comproski, Alejandro Peraza, Matthew LaBombard, Jamie Kelly, Jarret Dunham, and Shamara Haggray.

Though not the first females to serve here, three women are joining the currently all-male department.

Shamara Haggray of Albany is the first black woman officer.

"I want to get to know people on a positive note, not just going to calls," she said. "I want to be a positive face to the community."

Alejandro Peraza of Cohoes is the city’s first Hispanic officer.

"It’s a dream come true to be able to become a police officer in the city I grew up in," he said.

Bringing new officers in was done with the help of the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.

"We started with 126, and we came down to six, and they were the six best people, regardless of demographics," said Police Chief Todd Waldin. "I’m very pleased that we have diversity in our department, but the reality of it is that they were the six best candidates."

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There were also promotions: Matthew Orton to detective, Kyle Pucci to patrol sergeant, and Michael Greene to detective sergeant. Greene recently worked relentlessly on the murder case of 6-week-old Eli Harmon-Ojeda.

Chief Waldin says they were looking to bring in officers who want to be involved in the community and build relationships.

The women breaking new ground are ready to work.

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"All of it," said new officer Kyla Comproski. "It’s all just been interesting to me since I was a little kid, and I’ve gotten two internships in Colonie and here, trying to get a feel for it, and I loved every second of it."