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Albany Police facing a taxing weekend with multiple events and officer shortage

September 16, 2019 11:17 PM

ALBANY – This upcoming weekend is going to be a taxing one for Albany Police. With the department already short officers and many events happening Saturday, personnel will be stretched thin and that will mean a lot of overtime.

"It's becoming more and more taxing on these guys the shorter we get,” said Albany Police Officers Union President Gregory McGee.

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Happening this Saturday is the 38th annual LarkFest. The street festival is expected to have around 50,000 people. There will also be SUNY Albany and Albany High football games along with a concert at the Times Union Center. Along with officers working their regular Saturday shifts, McGee said around 70 officers will be mandated to work overtime

"You're looking at guys that are going to be working a double,” said McGee. “Days in a row or maybe two hour breaks here and there and then they have to come right back and work another eight hour shift."

McGee said there were about 280 calls to service last Saturday. McGee said last year on the Saturday of LarkFest there were 352 calls made. With the department down around 50 officers, it makes the multiple events even more difficult.

"It's very taxing so that's why it's ultimately important for our retention we got to keep these guys so they're not so exhausted, they're not underpaid and we're not understaffed,” explained McGee. “They just leave and go to other agencies. We had two officers leave in a week, just last week alone."

McGee said officers understand covering events and mandated hours is all part of the job, but he said the problem is when they aren’t being compensated for it. McGee said the union has been working very well with Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins on retention and recruiting. However, he said the important part is getting a contract with the city as they’ve been without one since 2015.

"When you're mandating these guys and you’re already short, these younger officers are going to say I'm burned out, I don't want to work here anymore I want to go work somewhere where I'm making 20 or 30 thousand more, I don't get mandated and I can go home and see my family,” said McGee.

McGee said no one should be concerned about safety this weekend as all the events will be covered and officers will do the great job that they do every day.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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