Policing has become a hot issue in many communities around New York. Following a term from former Governor Andrew Cuomo, many agencies are trying to find new ways to engage with the public.
The Capital Region Police Department was hoping for more community input, something the former Albany chief knows well.
“If we don’t build relationships and if the community is ready to stand up when something happens, the violence will continue because it will be much harder to get someone off the streets who is committing violence,” former Albany Police Chief Brendan said. said Cox.
“Transparency helps build trust,” said Gatete Rama, a lifelong Albany resident.
He and Cox want the same thing: a unified city.
“A lot of the stuff going around is misinformation,” Cox said. “I think people just want accountability. They want transparency, they want to know what’s going on.”
Cox participated in a roundtable at the University of Albany on civilian oversight of police. When he was chief in Albany, they had a civilian review board. Now they are bringing it back.
He said a properly run board can help end an us versus them mentality between police and the communities they serve.
It is not just the community that plays a role in creating a safer society. Too often, Cox said, law enforcement can be seen as the scapegoat, having to intervene in situations that other entities and agencies should have already handled.
“We have a ridiculous problem with poverty…mental illness, addiction, trauma. Those four issues out there, those need to be fixed, and the criminal justice system can’t fix them,” Cox said. “We need everyone at the table.”
Rama, a 2005 Albany high school graduate, said many of his friends got into law enforcement because of the positive experience they had with the police growing up.
“I had coaches who were police officers, which helped to see how you perceive other people,” he said. “You look beyond the uniform or the clothes or whatever, and it’s easier to communicate with that person.”
As to whether communities like Albany can come together to work toward the goal of zero violence, Rama said absolutely.
“We just have to honestly look at the decisions we’ve made, and we have to honestly look at what we need to do in the future,” Rama said.