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Albany Police Officers Union urges Mayor to address dispatcher shortages

August 06, 2018 11:39 PM

ALBANY - "Say you're having a heart attack. That minute counts," Gregory McGee said, Albany Police Officers Union VP said.
 
Albany Police and Fire answer approximately 400 emergency calls a day. Unanswered calls get rolled over to Colonie.

The union says they're budgeted for 40 dispatchers but currently employ only 30. 

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"Right now this is an actual public safety risk, somebody calls 911 and there's nobody there to answer the phone that's what we're trying to bring to light here," McGee said.
 
Another issue is the limited pool from which to pull from allowing only city residents to apply to the job. 

"By the time they take the civil service test, pass it and then the Albany Police Department gets back to them maybe 6 to 8 months later with the results, and they got to go through maybe three months of training, so how long is that period? A year and a half maybe two years," William Pierce said, Albany Police Officer.

Karen Tararache sent an email to Mayor Kathy Sheehan's Chief of Staff Brian Shea asking if the allegations made by the union members are true and if so what's being done to remedy the situation. She received no answer from Shea but instead, got a phone call from Acting Police Chief Mike Basil.

Basil called the situation unfortunate that some people weren't feeling well and some people were on vacation. He confirmed only 5 dispatchers were staffed instead of 7 and that the city will begin canvassing for recruits next week.

"Unfortunately, one of these days somebody may get hurt and it's not gonna be for lack of effort of the police officers or dispatchers," David Verrelli, APOU President said.

The union members are imploring Mayor Sheehan and the common council to open the position to the entire county, and offer more than just a starting salary of just $37,000.

"One of the lowest paid dispatchers in the area so it's hard to retain dispatchers here nobody wants to come work here when you can go work in another jurisdiction such as Colonie and make thousands more or year compared to here," McGee said.

The union members say Mayor Sheehan's pick for Police Chief, Eric Hawkins seems receptive to the issues that exist, adding they are eager to work with him.

Credits

Karen Tararache

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