Albany police forum to talk about officer body cameras

Albany police body camera forum 2016-02-23

From one of the public events last year.

There's a public forum Tuesday, May 23 to talk about the Albany Police Department's work toward using officer body cameras. The meeting -- organized by the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee (ACPAC) -- is at the Albany Public Library's Washington Ave Branch at 6 pm.

The APD has been looking at whether/how to use body cameras for more than a year now. And last summer it released a draft policy last summer. And this past fall it began a pilot test of body cameras from four different vendors. The city has a federal grant to help cover the cost of an eventual program, which is expected to be expensive.

Police body cameras are an important topic. Advocates of the tech have touted the cameras as a tool for increasing accountability of police and helping to provide more certainty about what happens during interactions between officers and the public. But use of the cameras also prompts questions about privacy, perspective, and who gets to interpret the resulting images.

ACPAC has two public events about the issue last year -- both were well attended. And not only did people show up, they were ready with insightful, sometimes tough, questions for the department. So this is another opportunity to offer feedback.

State troopers in Albany

You might have seen recently Andrew Cuomo's announcement that State Troopers are being assigned to patrol Albany as part of an anti-gang violence effort. That's prompted some questions about what, exactly, the troopers would be doing in the city, and concerns about how they would interact with people in the city's neighborhoods.

At a Common Council caucus Wednesday, acting Albany police chief Robert Sears told council members he was set to talk with State Police to coordinate details of the deployment. But the general outline of the plan was that 10 troopers would be assigned to the Capital District generally, with 2-3 in the city of Albany. Those troopers would be riding along with Albany police officers as part of two-person patrol cars, similar to a program the city and state had going on from 2005-2014.

While talking about the (not yet totally planned) plan, Sears mentioned the upcoming body camera forum and said he'd take questions and comments about the State Police patrols there, as well.

So if people have questions or concerns, the May 23 forum is a public opportunity ask them or state them.
____

Earlier:
+ Albany moves toward police body cameras
+ Thinking about police body cameras in Albany

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