Created: November 08, 2019 11:25 PM
ALBANY - "Community policing is not a unit. It's a philosophy. It involves a culture."
That is what police spokesperson Steve Smith told NewsChannel 13 over the phone Friday night.
He acknowledges the Albany Police Department is facing staffing challenges but says Chief Eric Hawkins has a plan to consolidate not eliminate positions.
Smith explains the City of Albany has 33 beats.
Of those 18 beats have neighborhood engagement officers, of which there are 32.
But right now, there are only 19 officers and 4 community service officers. The new plan will reduce 18 beats to 10 by expanding the geographical area of beats, in order to free up some officers to use in departments that are short.
In a Facebook post Thursday afternoon, the President of the Police Union, Greg McGee urged community members to reach out to city leaders. His concern is that the quality of service the residents expect of community policing is in jeopardy.
As we've reported the department is short about 50 officers and McGee says low pay is causing a recruitment and retention issue.
Chief Hawkins issued this statement saying "This department remains committed to community policing and will maintain an active and robust beat officer program. The goal of restructuring is to consolidate our resources so we can more efficiently and effectively serve the city of Albany."
The department will re-evaluate the changes again in a few months.
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