The third meeting of the Albany Policing Commission was held on September 21st. After the customary roll call and land acknowledgments, Commissioner Luke Panzar took a moment to discuss the recent shooting incident that occurred at the Toyota of Berkeley dealership off Eastshore Highway. That evening an employee of the dealership was fatally shot. Both Berkeley and Albany police responded to the call. During a shootout with the police, the male assailant died as well.
The majority of the meeting was spent finalizing their work plan and discussing potential actions of the commission. Updates to their workplace included regular reports from the Albany Crisis Team (ACT), collecting racial data on all police interactions, and general data on police complaints.
On the topic of police complaints, Commissioner Brian Johns said he felt “like we’re coming in here blind.” He expressed a desire for an overview of the department’s history. Other members agreed it would be helpful in order to gain insight into the department’s process and identify a starting point for improvements.
Johns brought up the idea of attending other policing commissions in neighboring municipalities to learn about how parallel committees operate. While discussing the logistics of this, Commissioner Peggy McQuaid pushed back worrying about comparing themselves to boards of differing caliber and goals. She argued to “establish our own lines and what we are” before seeking outside influence.
Later during the discussion, Commissioner Rebecca Dupuis said that instead of sitting in on meetings, the board should research other commissions. Reasoning, “It would serve us to look at commissions that have been at this a little bit longer than us and see what do they put on their work plan, what are the things they’re working on, what have they accomplished, what are the recommendations they may have made to their councils.”
The commission concluded that if members wished to attend other meetings they could do so informally as members of the public rather than representatives of the Commission. Any findings could then be shared as announcements during the next Albany Commission meeting.
Throughout the meeting, the Commission appeared frustrated by the lack of communication from the police. The motion to approve the amended work plan, which included comprehensive and frequent data reports, was approved unanimously. The commission will meet next month on October 19th, 2023.
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