Local leaders announce Albany Public Safety Commission proposal

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some local leaders in Albany are working on a new proposal to change public safety and policing in the city.

There is a plan to create a Public Safety Commission. This proposal would form a group of community members who would be designated as ‘neighborhood peace keepers.’ The goal is to give the community a voice.

“We need to give citizens a voice; they need to have a voice during encounters,” says Alice Green, Executive director of the Center for Law and Justice.

“It’s just not all about policing, it’s about citizens having a voice in their public safety manner throughout the city and not just the voice for elected city council members to just fulfill that, but have them have a legitimate voice and crafting on what public safety would look like for their community,” says Albany City Common Council President Corey Ellis.

This Albany Public Safety Commission is structured into two separate parts with all intensions to bring transparency between City Hall and the neighborhoods.

“When we’re looking at policing, we talk about public safety but we only talk about public safety when it comes to crime. We don’t talk about public safety when it comes to mental health issues; we don’t talk about public safety when it comes to quality of life issues…that’s all part of public safety,” says Ellis.

Local officials hope this proposal can take some of the stress off of those in uniform.

“They’re going to be as you would say deputized by the law to perform those duties, they’re going to be trained to do those type of duties…that’s my vision,” says Ellis.

Neither the mayor nor Albany Police Department were present at Wednesday’s press conference; however, this proposal is also written in Albany’s Policing Reform & Reinvention Plan. The plan was similarly drafted with over 30 community members and officials.

In response to Wednesday’s Public Safety Commission Press Conference:

“The Mayor and the Police Chief have commenced implementation of the recommendations outlined in Albany’s Policing Reform & Reinvention Plan – a plan that was developed by a group of 32 community members, including Council President Ellis, over the course of six months through 63 meetings and incorporating comments from more than 300 residents. We will continue to work with the community and the Common Council to create a public safety structure that recognizes the critical importance of meeting the needs of our residents and providing alternatives to how we respond to calls for service.”

David Galin, Chief of Staff to Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Ellis says finding the right people fit for the job will take some time. These peace keepers will likely get paid. This proposal hasn’t been introduced to the common council, yet. Local leaders and organizers are hopeful the council can come to a vote by the end of this year.

“…I don’t like to get stuck in what it’s going to be — I want to focus on creating the entity and appoint those folks who have certain skills and abilities and see where that takes us,” Ellis adds.

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