Emily De Vito
Updated: April 23, 2019 09:38 AM
Created: April 22, 2019 01:00 AM
ALBANY – Community members came out to the Arbor Hill Community Center Monday night to express their concerns with the Albany Police Department.
A series of three meetings was set up by the community organization A Block at a Time after an incident on First Street last month that led to the arrest of Officer Luke Deer for assault and official misconduct.
Community members either asked Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins a question regarding the incident, or just addressed him with their concerns.
"I think it was very beneficial,” said Chief Hawkins. “I think it helped for people to release some of the emotions. I think it helped for my officers and me to hear what our community is feeling about this."
One of the biggest questions regarding the incident in March, was why only three officers have been suspended and one of them arrested. Chief Hawkins had said previously nearly a dozen officers responded to the incident that night and only learned about the excessive force used through a video on Facebook.
"I still feel as though all of them should've been fired,” said Gloria Stanford, the sister of Armando Sanchez who was seen on video being beaten by Officer Deer.
Chief Hawkins said every officer on the scene that night is having his or her actions reviewed by both the Albany County District Attorney and administratively.
“There's still a possibility there could be some more criminal charges filed in this case,” said Hawkins. “The fact that an officer got arrested for a criminal act on duty is something that you don't see usually at police departments across the country, but it shows that we do hold our officers accountable.”
Another big topic discussed Monday night, community policing.
"How can you be in a community you don't beat walk around, know who lives there, you don't come to games," said Sanford.
Chief Hawkins said there is always room for improvement, but they currently have 50 officers dedicated solely to community policing. Hawkins said he hopes the community remembers something as they continue to move forward.
“This is not an indictment on all of the police officers that are going out there every day doing great things in our community,” said Hawkins.
The next community meeting with police is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7 and then a final meeting will be held Monday May 20.
To learn more about the meetings, click here.
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