The Four Chiefs Beat The Old Boys

June 22, 2010

Congratulations to Albany’s new Chief of Police Steven Krokoff, let’s see if he can keep the promises that got him the job

The room was packed, corporate TV camera crews lined the walls getting in everybody’s way. It was an extraordinary, jaw-dropping event and we sat there stunned and amazed, wondering if this could really be happening. It was January 2010, the first Wednesday of the new decade, and the top brass of the Albany Police Department stood before us at the Council of Albany Neighborhood meeting (CANA) at the main library.

We had four chiefs in full dress uniform, all in a row, come to make peace with the taxpayers. There was Assistant Chief Steven Krokoff, Deputy Chief Steven Reilly, Deputy Chief Brendan Cox, and Assistant Chief Anthony Bruno. There was no Chief of Police in front of us because the last Chief of Police, James Tuffey, resigned in September of last year just before the elections.

And I almost immediately noted that all four of these chiefs were much younger than me. Only Chief Bruno could be called a baby boomer. The other three were too young to be identified as Old Boys, this was the new generation. I’ll get back to that.

The Four Chiefs At CANA, January 2010.  From Left, Steven Krokoff, Steven Reilly, Brendan Cox And Anthony Bruno.  (From ACT) The Four Chiefs At CANA, January 2010. From Left, Steven Krokoff, Steven Reilly, Brendan Cox And Anthony Bruno.
(From ACT)

Chief Krokoff and company had come to tell us that there has been a lack of communication between the police and the taxpayers who support the police. That’s putting it mildly. And he stated that despite a recent drop in official crime statistics the public still has the perception that the police are not doing an adequate job. Now, where could that have come from?

I can’t speak authoritatively about other parts of the City, but I can speak about my own. Since I moved to my South End neighborhood in 1985, I’ve observed that until very recently the Albany police department has been engaged in open warfare against my neighborhood. This policy by the police department has worked very nicely with the anti-urban policies of the Albany City government, thus the police enjoyed no public oversight for a long time.

What do I mean by open warfare? I’m referring to cops coming to the doors of white homeowners (only the white ones) and telling them to move out of the City. I’m talking about cops who openly treat respectable hard working citizens (such as myself) the same way they treat repeat offenders. I’m talking about cops who practice Denial of Service, refusing to respond to emergency calls, or even do routine police work.

That’s for starters. I want to start ranting here, detailing one example after another how over the years in my neighborhood the Albany Police have effectively protected criminals and worked to downgrade my neighborhood. instead of interrupting the narrative flow, I’ll say that police pressure against my neighborhood is nowhere near as bad as it was, say, five or ten years ago. There has been a change toward the positive, slow in progress, but steadily better.

Future Chief Of Police Krokoff Choosing His Words Carefully At CANA (From ACT) Future Chief Of Police Krokoff Choosing His Words Carefully At CANA (From ACT)

So to sit at the CANA meeting at the main library and hear the police top brass say that “there have been problems in the past” and that the police “need to work closer with the community” was like being part of an unreal dream. A good dream, not the continuation of the lingering nightmare. Chief Krokoff humbly proposed calling off the police war against the community once and for all:

We have gotten away from community oriented policing, the police have gone in one direction and the community another. We have had some successes, but the problem is we’re not working together… What we are hoping to do is bring a real community policing policy to the Albany Police Department.