Albany getting almost $4 million to hire more police officers

albany police carKirsten Gillibrand announced today that the feds are dropping almost $4 million on the city of Albany to hire more police officers. And Troy is getting $350k to do the same. [KG]

The APD says it will be able to cover the salaries and benefits of 16 new officers for three years with the money. (Related question: what happens after that?) [@JCEvangelist_TU]

There's research that indicates one of the best ways to reduce a city's crime rate is to hire more police officers (police officers are "a bargain" according to one economist), though there's also research that indicates otherwise. During New York's City's famed decline in crime during the 90s, its police department added large numbers of officers to its ranks -- though the crime rate has continued to decline this decade even as the officer count has also receded. (The continued fall in crime rates all around the nation during the past decade has experts kind of baffled.) [Marginal Revolution] [Reason] [NYT] [NYT]

All other things being equal, it seems reasonable to expect that having more cops on the streets of Albany is a good thing -- especially if those officers are engaged with the community, a goal on which the APD currently appears to be focused. The crime rate in the city has been dropping, but there are still spots with serious problems. [TU] [TU]

(Related: there seems to be a perception among many people -- especially those who live outside the city -- that Albany is constantly crime ridden. Does the presence of more cops start to lessen that fear, or does it somehow subconsciously signal "crime here"? Doesn't change whether more cops should be deployed to reduce crime, but PR counts sometimes, too.)

Just out of curiosity, we did a little math to figure out how Albany's residents/cop count compares against that of New York City:

Albany: 311 residents per police officer

NYC: 237 residents per police officer

The Albany figure is based on the count reported by the TU's Jordan Carleo-Evangelist today. The NYC number is via the NYPD.

photo: Flicker user JLaw45


I'd applaud this if i thought it was going to result in cops actually being present in those high crime areas...

instead they will still be in cruisers flying by once or twice a day.

Why doesn't the city of Albany just take some officers from Colonie, where the plentiful cops spend their days stalking unwitting drivers, hoping to trap them for some minor traffic offense...

That would solve this problem, and also make Colonie a little less of a police state (maybe)...

While this should be helpful, it doesn't address the real problem and that is the lack of jobs and investment in communities that have crime problems. The police chief said as much in the recent article.

"You've got to look at the victimology there. The lion's share of these types of incidents are tied to the socioeconomic status of the area," Krokoff said. "Deterrence is only a factor if people have hope. If you're growing up in a community where you have no hope and you feel it's almost your destiny to either be dead or in prison by the time you're 25 or 30, deterrence has almost no effect."

Read more:

So, there is more money for deterrence and none addressing the socioeconomic causes.

@code monkey: While I wholeheartedly agree with you, the issue I take with your stance is that government-run anti-poverty programs are remarkably ineffective. It's not that the government is not good at anything, it's great at most things, but the vast majority of anti-poverty programs were incredible wastes of money. For example, urban renewal and the public housing towers of the 1960's were only bad, and increased the gutting of our inner cities and impoverished areas. The Earned Income Tax Credit? Awesome program, great way to spend money, but if you look at the transition from TANF to AFDC (2 welfare programs) for example, there was a startling and immediate reduction in users, just based on a several basic anti-fraud measures. AFDC probably did more to encourage a culture of poverty (rewarding you linearly for having more kids, reducing payments for married couples) than anything else.

People respond well to incentive, that's why programs like Bolsa Familia work so well, and we need to incentivize education and career training in this country. We could create better small business loan programs, and attempt to expand enrollment at our community colleges (proven anti-poverty measures) but the current programs NYS is using clearly are not working.

AFDC numbers:
Bolsa Familia:

What's up with these traditional news stories? If I wanted to read about adding police, chip fab or PEF layoffs, I'd go to the Times Useless.

Give me those quirky, independent stories that AOA is great at!

I didn't say anything about government run anti poverty programs. Obviously they don't work or we wouldn't have 40% of the kids in Albany living in poverty. We need new ideas. Not the same old tired ones (like more cops).

What I'm recommending is that our Mayor and other local officials stop giving all the money to corporations like the Crowne Plaza, BBL and Albany Med and look at ways to create opportunities for everyone in Albany, not just the politically connected. .

We need better housing in Albany. With the a good loan program and some grant money there are people who could create jobs by putting people to work fixing up the neighborhoods that have all the crime. People need jobs and they need decent housing. Since there is no code enforcement in Albany, the housing in worst neighborhoods in Albany is pretty dismal. And I'm not talking about giving Winn or BBL $750,000 to renovate a row house. I'm talking about giving opportunity to people in the city to do the work and get the same thing done at a fraction of the cost. But this helps people, not politicians, so they don't do it.

NYS just gave another $400 million to create high tech jobs. Where are the plans to create jobs and opportunity for the kids growing up in West Hill? There are none.

More cops won't solve the problem. But Jennings, McEneny, Breslin and Cuomo do nothing to address the real issue while they work their asses off to get more handouts for local corporations.

Is it easy to do? Hell no. But the current approach does nothing to help. Maybe if more cops meant less overtime so that the taxpayers might get a break there would be some good. But more cops inevitably means more overtime and higher taxes.

The truth is that there is no will to do this among our current elected officials. They have written off those communities and dream of some day bulldozing them all and giving the land to developers.

I completely understand what you're saying, I think I'm assuming less maliciousness and more incompetence and frustration in the face of an intractable issue on the politician's part than you are. I guess the question that irks me the most is this: given the success of the Irish, Italians, Poles, Chinese, African and Arab in assimilating and lifting themselves out of poverty, what prevents the poor in Albany and Troy from repeating their successes? I understand there are historic barriers, but is it the lack of inherited wealth?

The Trojan poor seems to be mostly white and uneducated. What are the barriers preventing them from doing well? Can you change a dysfunctional culture? I guess that the reason I find the problem so interesting and frustrating is that I think it needs to come from within, and that any attempt to change attitudes will be met with resentment. Honestly, I think that until the day certain groups have a "Come to Jesus" moment, the best we can do as a society is to gentrify them to the edges of our cities and towns. There, lower densities allow the criminal element to do less damage, and provide a higher standard of living at a lower cost.

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