Albany Community Police Review Board may soon launch first probe with new powers from ‘Prop 7’

Northeast Region

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s been less than a month since voters in Albany said “yes” to giving the Community Police Review Board (CPRB) more power. Its first investigation under the new law could be coming soon.

In 2018, the City of Albany’s Office of Professional Standards looked into complaints of officer misconduct after a man was arrested on two occasions. The CPRB feels the investigation fell short, and now members want to launch their own.

Larry Becker, who served on the CPRB when these incidents were first looked at, explained to the Common Council in a recent meeting that the biggest victim in this case was the relationship between the police department and the community.

“It’s already damaged to begin with, but it was further damaged by choices made by the target officer and others in arresting somebody for going the wrong way down a one way street on a bicycle,” Becker said, referring to one of the two arrests in question.

Albany Police Public Information Officer Steve Smith defended the Office of Professional Standards’ investigation into the matter.

“In 2018 the Office of Professional Standards conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the matter and prepared the case for the Citizens Police Review Board’s review. That review finally took place in 2020 and following recommendations by the Board, the case was re-examined. We remain confident that the investigation was thorough and is complete,” Smith wrote in a statement to NEWS10.

Becker disagrees.

“There were so many issues that weren’t properly addressed by OPS,” he told Common Council members over Zoom.

Common Council President Corey Ellis said this speaks to what city residents want to see in regards to community policing, and the recent passage of ballot proposal 7, which enhanced the CPRB’s power and budget, giving them subpoena power and the ability to hire outside investigators.

“The citizens have spoken, overwhelmingly, that they felt the police department couldn’t investigate themselves,” he said, “and so they wanted an independent body to have the ability to investigate any civilian complaints against the police department.”

If the CPRB decides to launch an investigation, it will not need the go-ahead from the common council.

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