Earlier today Mayor Kathy Sheehan emailed members of the city police reform collaborative to warn them of the imminent release of a Times Union article detailing an Albany Police officer’s comments that Black people are “the worst fucking race.”
In the email Sheehan states, “This unfortunate incident further highlights the importance of the work the Albany Policing Reform Collaborative is doing”
However, Sheehan’s comments come as activists deride the collaborative for discouraging actual debate, a lack of transparency, and a structure that puts the power in the hands of the police.
Furthermore, members of the review board say officers who take part in these meetings regularly turn off their cameras for the entirety of the meetings and fail to respond when asked for their input.
A new phase of the collaborative involving breakout working groups has flown mostly under the radar due to the lack of public notice from the city.
Sheehan and her staff said earlier this year the working group meetings would provide the public a chance to become involved in the process.
Members of the reform collaborative have been told there is no “capacity” to conduct the working group meetings on Zoom where the public could watch and participate.
In the lead up to these working groups, some members of the collaborative and activists argued police officers should not take part as their presence might have a chilling effect on criticism of the APD.
Activists and community members gathered at St. Joseph’s Park in Arbor Hill on Friday to speak out about their interactions with the APD and their frustrations with the police reform collaborative, which according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order mandates the meetings be open to the public.
Jahaira Roldan, a member of the collaborative who’s spoken out about the lack of inclusion and transparency in the group, addressed the group on Friday saying, “There are people on this collaborative who are not participating, they are not turning on their cameras.”
Roldan says she asked if the collaborative plans to address community fear of police due to ICE raids in the South End and received no response.
She welcomed input from the community despite saying, “At the end of this we will have a draft that will not be what we want, which is for the police department to be defunded.”
Officer David W. Haupt was suspended for 30 days on Wednesday after body camera footage of his racist tirade was turned over from the Albany County DA to the APD. The Times Union obtained a transcript of Haupt’s conversation with an unnamed member of the Albany County Sheriff’s department that reads,
Deputy: “Literally it does get old because literally every day, it’s not like it’s an overwhelming 50-percent-to-50-percent shot where you get a call and they’re like, ‘Yeah, a white male — ,’ or, you know what I mean.”
Haupt:, My buddies listen to the scanner and they send me texts all the time, and they go, ‘Is the suspect ever a white male?’ and I go ‘No.’ I know it sounds terrible to say, but I don’t give a fuck what anybody says, I sincerely don’t. Because bro, they are the worst fucking race and I don’t — you can’t deny, like, over the last X amount of months, they are — you know because we work together — they are getting worse and worse, and people are defending that. Are you fucking kidding me?”
Here’s Sheehan’s email to members of the police reform collaborative
Good evening, all,
I want to make the members of the Police Reform Collaborative aware of a Times Union article that I expect will be released later today.
Today, I watched a video of an on-duty conversation between an Albany Police Officer and an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy that was appalling and deeply disturbing. It included racist remarks and demonstrated total ignorance of the challenges facing our community. The Albany Police Department suspended the officer without pay yesterday after reviewing the video.
This unfortunate incident further highlights the importance of the work the Albany Policing Reform Collaborative is doing. Policing works when officers and the public trust and respect one another. I commend Chief Hawkins for acting swiftly and I am committed to ensuring transparency following APD’s investigation into this incident in order to continue the essential work of building trust and respect.
Mayor, City of Albany