On January 4th, we filled the Lincoln Community Center with an energy unlike anything we have seen before. The room was flooded with approximately 70 community members of richly diverse backgrounds – all with the common interest of justice. When the facilitator, Yana Ludwig, asked what brought everyone to the forum, it was clear the community came because they had serious concerns about the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.
Unfortunately, the community may be feeling like justice is illusive, as a grand jury chose not to indict Colling of involuntary manslaughter the week following the forum.
Karlee Provenza introduced ACoPP, outlining the actions taken and the feelings associated with them.
ACoPP has struggled in our pursuit of transparency, suffering two refusals of our records requests that we invested our time and energy in. Now, we must continue that fight and simultaneously move forward in demanding change.
It’s going to take more than a few blows to discourage ACoPP; we are a resilient bunch! It was clear this community has that same tenacity to make important changes happen in our community. ACoPP is excited to be part of those solutions.
During the working portion of the forum, everyone broke into groups at tables which covered community oversight boards of police, law enforcement policy and procedures, unmet mental health needs, personal stories, and miscellaneous topics not otherwise covered. ACoPP set time aside for two 20-minute sessions, which attendees chose.
During those brief 20-minute sessions, magic happened. That diverse group of people who started off as strangers shared their ideas and stories in a way that challenged each other and welcomed a variety of perspectives.
At the community oversight board table, members discussed the pros and cons of having law enforcement advisory members, elections versus appointments of members, and more. Those that discussed mental health issues wanted mental health training of police to be required and regularly updated. At the story table, we heard various accounts that have caused people to be fearful of police and dissolve public trust. Policy and procedures were also highlighted, with much attention placed on hiring practices.
Across all of the tables was the concern of police training, particularly related to de-escalation and mental health awareness.
This is just a taste of what was covered. The report is viewable on our website and is being sent to public officials and the press directly.
It is important to us that we have conversations and build relationships with our public officials as they are the vehicles that will aid in implementing the changes the community envisioned. Just like the community demonstrated at the forum, we don’t all have to agree on everything to get important work done. There is always a point in trying when what you want to accomplish is justice.
You can view the report in full here.