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Troopers to help Schenectady, Albany departments

Troopers to help Schenectady, Albany departments

Rise in some crimes spurs effort
Troopers to help Schenectady, Albany departments
Ten state troopers will be available to the Albany and Schenectady police departments.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

The Albany and Schenectady police departments will soon be able to call on 10 state troopers for expanded patrols and anti-gang efforts in those cities, state officials announced Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of new initiatives that include increased access to state intelligence experts, aviation assistance and specialized equipment.

The announcement also outlined the addition of 10 troopers that will be available to both cities and maybe to other municipalities in the region, state police Capt. Robert Patnaude said.

The Schenectady connection came after Police Chief Eric Clifford asked Patnaude for help responding to a rise in certain crimes to prevent them from becoming larger problems.

"It's nothing overwhelming, like we need them here and we need them now," Clifford said. "But rather than take a risk that something will turn for the worse, I'd rather get them out to address it right away."

Final details are being worked out, Clifford said, but he hopes to have some extra troopers on city streets a couple of nights each week.

The effort is reminiscent of a similar one, under a program called Operation Impact, that happened from 2008-09 that stationed three troopers in Schenectady nightly to bolster city police patrols.

The new program is under Operation Impact's successor -- Gun Involved Violence Elimination -- and another statewide program. The governor announced a similar initiative Tuesday that will focus on the Rochester area. The cost of the trooper assignments was unclear, as well as whether they would come from new hires or existing troopers. 

The extra bodies will also help a Schenectady department that is working to fill 10 vacancies while trying to build better relationships with residents, Clifford said.

The program that began in 2008 built lasting relationships between the Albany and Schenectady departments, Clifford said, and he wants to renew that.

Patnaude said the "blue-gray" patrols will increase visibility of law enforcement in areas prone to violence and drug-related crimes.

Regular police calls will be handled by city officers, though the troopers will still respond to major incidents, officials said.

"They'll act as a force multiplier," Patnaude said. "Schenectady is a good Police Department, but they have limited resources, limited people and a lot of work to do, and we'll do what we can to help them."

Patnaude said he doesn't expect the Schenectady assignments to be permanent; they will be re-evaluated after a few months. Other departments in the area can also request trooper assistance, he said.

Clifford said he expects to focus on the Van Vranken Avenue corridor, where a non-fatal shooting that happened on April 6 remains under investigation, as well as the Crane Street corridor in Mont Pleasant where quality-of-life issues often turn into bigger concerns.

The overall deployment is to include two troopers joining the FBI-led Capital Region Safe Streets Task Force and an Albany-focused member of the state's Gang Intelligence Unit, according to the governor's office.

"By deploying additional state police to conduct new anti-gang operations and investing new resources in our communities, we are taking bold and aggressive action to fight back against the scourge of gangs and gun violence in the Capital Region," Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

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