Albany mayor, police chief address city’s response to gun violence


ALBANY — With more than 90 shooting victims in the city of Albany already this year, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Chief of Police Eric Hawkins hosted a press conference Wednesday clarify the actions being taken to address the problem.

 The press conference occurred just hours after an early morning shooting on Hudson Avenue where a 24-year-old male suffered a non-life threatening injury.

 Nicholas Cortez, 24, of Albany was subsequently charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree menacing. He was arraigned and sent to the Albany County Jail.

At the press conference, Sheehan opened with a slide presentation noting the city has received 175 calls for shots fired. There have been 92 gunshot victims — with seven of those being homicides — this year, she said.

Both Sheehan and Hawkins pointed out city police’s response time to the incidents.

“We are responding in one to two minutes; most places across the country for response times to violent crimes, they’re happy with three to five minutes,” Hawkins said.

Sheehan said 29 incidents were cleared by an arrest and 10 individuals accounted for 15 of the events and were incarcerated. She said 14 other individuals were arrested in the shooting occurrences and are not incarcerated.

Both were asked about the impact of the state’s recent bail reform laws.

“We are one part of this criminal justice system,” Sheehan said. “I know that our police department would like nothing more than to have these cases go to trial so that we can ensure that we are keeping streets safe.”

Hawkins noted the increase in violence in May and June of this year, but year-over-year the numbers are consistent if not subsiding.

“We are seeing a tremendous amount of progress in addressing these issues in our community,” Hawkins said. “Normal activity increases in May, June, July, subside August and Sept.

“This year we saw a decrease, telling me we are trending back down in this community.”

Hawkins said many of the incidents stem from old disagreements between parties.

“A lot of its social media, but more so we’ve having these feuds between these groups of individuals and sometimes its difficult to determine what the source of it is,” he said. “We’ve learned that through investigations the source was something that happened five or 10 years ago, or it involved a relative or a friend of the two who are directly involved. A lot of it just doesn’t make sense.

“My message has consistently been to our young men and young women, that we have got to resolve these conflicts in a more peaceful non-violent way. Disrespect and some of the feuds that happened years and years ago are not a reason to take out a gun and try to kill another person.”

The Albany Police Department is getting assistance within the community, along with external support, the police chief said.

“We have faith-based organizations, community groups, individuals who reside in this community who want to help, law enforcement partners like the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and state police have offered and allowed some of their troopers and deputies to work with us to increase our police presence in our neighborhoods,” Hawkins said. “There are a whole host of people in this community who are very, very engaged right now at all levels and they are talking about this.”

Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] or @StanHudy on Twitter.

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