Albany cops try to bridge gap with African American teens

October 17, 2017 07:07 PM

ALBANY - Members of the Albany Police Department are meeting with some high school students to try and bridge the divide between police and young African American youths.

It was an awkward meeting, because the participants are usually on opposite sides – police officers and young, African American males. So the questions were pointed. For example, why are police so aggressive?

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"When we get that call, do you think I'm going to say, 'Oh, it's just a robbery, or it's just a shooting,' and I'm just going to go, 'Hey sir, how are you doing?' We can't afford to do that," explained police.

Another student asked if the officers thought there would be a time when teenagers don't get nervous when they see a police car.

"Yes, I do. Especially now, especially this year, this day and age, especially with the Albany Police Department," police replied.

This year, the issue has gained national attention from protests in St. Louis to protests on the field.

"We're trying to bridge that gap with you guys, to make sure that you're comfortable with us," assured police.

There was a lesson for these teens on how to behave if you are stopped by police.

"If they tell you to pull over, stop, take your hands out of your pockets, follow the directions," instructed police.

They said you can always battle later about how you were treated.

The officers from the Albany Police Department were invited to Green Tech High, an all-male, mostly African American charter school in Albany, as part of "Non-Violence Week." However, noticeably absent were the white officers.

"I don't really see a lot of black officers doing a lot of stuff to African American people. I think it would have been better if the white cops could hear my thoughts and how I was actually feeling," explained Kamao Douglas, a student.

That invitation is now being extended to the entire Albany police force.

As part of non-violence week, Green Tech High will host a community forum on Saturday, October 21 and talk about the issue of violence and a community basketball game on Sunday, October 22.

More information:

Green Tech High Charter School website

Green Tech High Charter School Facebook page


WNYT Staff

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