Albany Meets About Policing

On July 20th, the Albany Chief of Police, John Geissberger, gave a presentation regarding Albany Police Department (APD) policies to Albany’s Community Task Force on Policing. The presentation gave insight regarding the core values, policing philosophies and culture of the APD. 

“Service, professionalism, pride, teamwork, and dedication,” are the principles that guide the police department in its work, Geissberger said. These essential beliefs enable them to be thoughtful in how they police the community and judiciously apply the law. The APD has a mindset that “just because the law says we can do it, doesn’t mean it is right” so that officers have discretion to do what they believe is right, he said.

The APD has been using up-to-date policies that ensure the best practices are deployed in the field. Policies are updated when federal or state laws are changed, new equipment is purchased, or new best practices are identified. Geissberger also mentioned that in April 2021, Albany was recognized for excellence in law enforcement policy management by Lexipol, and was given its Gold level award (highest recognition). For example, Albany has added the “Fair and Unbiased Use of Force” policy as well as the “Biased-Based Policing Prohibited” policy to their department. These policies lay out procedures to ensure that the law is applied equally and fairly and that the community is protected. Alternative de-escalation tactics have also been implemented.

The Albany Police Department has begun training on how to engage with people experiencing homelessness, and has also begun crisis intervention training to learn how to properly approach and support those who are undergoing mental crises. They are working closely with Albany CARES, utilizing the county’s mobile mental health services, and exploring the idea of forming their own crisis response team are all examples of this. Albany was also the first city in the state to complete an LGBT awareness training course. 

Task force member Gregory Downs presented a document with a proposal for the creation of the Albany Public Safety Accountability Commission near the end of the meeting. According to the document, the Albany Community Task Force was asked to fund a consultant with experience in police complaints to work for the commission. The proposed commission’s responsibilities include receiving and reviewing police complaints; making recommendations on policing budgets; and requesting and publicizing all relevant information about the police department’s composition and depositions given to judicial authorities; data about police stops; complaints and related issues.

As this was a general summary of the meeting, the link is provided for further information. 

-Anna Rocha

Please see the full meeting here: 

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