Audit: Black Albany residents face disproportionate arrest, use of force




Black residents are more likely to be pulled over, arrested, charged with resisting arrest and have force used against them according to a report commissioned by Albany Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs. 

The CNA consulting firm conducted the $80,000 racial bias audit as part of a review of local police departments mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Albany Residents have until Friday the 13th to comment on the report. Following the comment period CNA will present their findings to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the Common Council, and the Albany Police Department. 

The report stopped short of blaming the disproportionate arrests of Black residents on racial bias citing a lack of data. The report suggests the city needs to collect more data on traffic stops and conduct an investigation into why Black residents are targeted. 

You can send your comments about the report to smartjustice@cna.org or to Zoë Thorkildsen, audit team Project Director  (thorkildsenz@cna.org).

Other findings of the report include: 

  • APD personnel do not fully understand the complaints process and how or when possible disciplinary actions could take place.
  • The community complaints process is convoluted and poorly understood by community members, leading to mistrust and a lack of procedural justice. 
  • Use of force policy should be updated and be more clear for officers to know when they can or cannot use various forms of force. • Annual reports detailing use of force incidents should be made publicly available to community members in the city.
  • APD’s philosophy and culture have a strong focus on community policing practices, but this message needs to be reinforced to all personnel.
  • The structure of the Neighborhood Engagement Unit and School Resource Officers should be reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness. 
  • APD’s website could benefit from a modern reconstruction so that each embedded page is easily accessible and allows community members to find current information on the organization and projects they are working on. 
  • The diversity of APD personnel does not reflect the racial makeup of the City of Albany. • Recruitment and hiring practices should be reviewed, and the department should begin releasing annual reports on this data.
  • The promotional process is of concern to personnel and should be tracked in a database, and the performance evaluation process should be standardized. 
  • Annual reports of data designated in various General Orders should be completed and housed on the APD website for all community members to easily access. 
  • APD participates in a long list of programs and should seek evaluations of these programs to determine their effectiveness and help allocate resources among the programs. 
  • There are community concerns that past proposed reforms have not been implemented, along with concerns that officers do not live in the City of Albany.
  • Annual in-service training curriculum should be updated to include various topics, including but not limited to racial bias and cultural sensitivity training. 
  • Training is not consistent across the department, and personnel feel they need more training to sufficiently do their jobs.

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