ALERT Initiative

Informing and Engaging the

Community and Law Enforcement

Founded in 2015, ALERT’s approach to community and law enforcement interaction is formed to build greater understanding, greater trust, and greater respect by both entities.

 

The Albany Law Enforcement Resolution Team exists to help law enforcement and the Community resolve differences and come to amicable solutions advocating for peace and harmony… even during times of heightened tensions.                        

ALERT is a 501©3 nonprofit with a governing board that consists of Pastor David Traynham, Anthony Capece, Anthony Gaddy, Jamil Hood, Sr, Marc Andre Massena, and Adam Zaranko.

              

The ALERT Task Force is made up of people who intercede on behalf of law enforcement and the community. The Task Force helps give direction and helps to implement our programs and outreaches.  

Our goal is to inform and engage our community with law enforcement on various levels. Building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and trans-generational bridge between these groups, will bring greater peace and harmony to our city and region.

 

Helping heal the fracture between law enforcement and residents caused by misinformation, some high-profile police interactions, and lack of knowledge is our objective

                  

To build stronger, safer, and more peaceful communities, we must change the negative hearts, minds, and attitudes that law enforcement professionals, community leaders, and residents, have about each other.

 

We do this by helping members of our city resolve conflicts before they become unmanageable. By providing a platform for healthy conversation with law enforcement throughout the year, we give greater understanding and build trust between both entities. 

 

Some ways we help reconcile these entities are through:

  • Community Leader and Law Enforcement Summits

  • Affording community opportunities for interaction via the One City United / Albany Sports Challenge events.

  • Providing community forums on various topics of concern

  • Providing informational seminars for schools and organizations

  • Encouraging working relationships between law enforcement and the community

Since our initial meeting in 2015 with the Albany County Sheriff in attendance, we have expanded. In addition to them, we are also now in partnership with: Police Department; NY State Police; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; University at Albany Police; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of NY; the Albany County District Attorney; Albany Fire Department; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the NY Attorney General’s Office; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Public Safety Commission.

Around the nation, relationships between law enforcement agencies and many of our inner-city communities are strained because of the careless actions of a small percentage of officers.

 

This behavior resulted in physical and emotional harm and sometimes death to mostly People of Color. As a result, these actions have strained relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

 

When criminal actions are evident and there’s a lack of indictment and conviction of those officers, in retaliation some citizens have taken the law into their own hands. We want to avert this in Albany.

 

ALERT is in place to calm heightened tension by educating and uniting communities and law enforcement, encouraging partnerships.

 

In December 2014 following the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, MO, President Barack Obama created a Task Force on 21st Century Policing by executive order.

 

On a broader scale, the ALERT Partnership undertaking reflects six pillars of President, Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. These are:

  • Building Trust and Legitimacy

  • Policy and Oversight

  • Technology and Social Media

  • Community Policing and Crime Reduction

  • Mutual Training and Education

  • A police officer and agent Wellness and Safety

 

We do not make demands for what we want. We work towards solutions that are specific to the issues our neighborhoods face.

It must be understood that ALERT does not “speak” for the communities that make up our region, as there’s no one voice who can capture the issues that affect all communities. We provide a platform for those communities to do so.

 

Our desire is to bring understanding to the concerned parties. When needed we will stand for justice as a mediator between those who have taken the oath to “Protect and Serve” and the communities to whom they made this pledge.

 

Businesses, community organizations, and our city thrive when people are more engaged. When all entities flourish, the city becomes stronger, more liveable, and healthier. It becomes a place where all people, from all backgrounds, want to live and raise their families.

 

The word ALERT defined is: “The ability to think clearly and notice things; Being watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency; Being quick to perceive and act.” These are the qualities we look for when selecting our Task Force members.

 

Because we have a diverse audience, we will provide on-going education for our team. We encourage them to hold to our agenda and not allow initiatives other than working towards resolutions to circumvent community gatherings that we host.

 

We are focused and guards against taking on initiatives that are not aligned with our mission of resolution and reconciliation that make our communities stronger.

The policies, procedures, and laws that govern our land are in place to protect our law enforcement officials. We trust that when the code of law is broken by the color of law, implicit or explicit biases, or having disregard for the laws that protect our citizens, there should be repercussions for the lawbreakers on the law enforcement side, just as there are when our citizens go beyond the laws that are in place.

 

If trust is going to be fostered and peace is going to prevail, our communities must have a system that is balanced and that they can trust in. If they cannot trust in the system, they will never trust those who uphold what they feel is a broken system, to begin with.

 

We believe our communities face injustice when the current law is biased in favor of law enforcement. These biases must be identified and changed; however, we believe that we must go through proper channels to ensure that our city remains at peace and the change we seek is permanent.

 

Any instances of injustice that favors law enforcement must be challenged in a court of law. We encourage utilizing the judicial system as it is set up to foster the desired change.

One instance that tested the resolve of ALERT and the heart of the residents of Albany was the unfortunate death of Donte’ Ivy in 2015. ALERT organized numerous meetings with community, political, and religious leaders, as well as federal and local law enforcement entities.

 

We assured the community that we were holding the Albany Police Department accountable, ensuring that the officers in question performed their duties within the confines of policy and law.

 

Law Enforcement Participation

 

The relationship between ALERT and law enforcement is built on collaboration and independent partnership. With mutual objectives, we are positioned to assist law enforcement with their goals, while at the same time, bringing them together with the communities they serve.

To do this effectively, ALERT will determine the issues that “a” community faces and bring together the law enforcement agency that can best bring solutions to their concerns.

 

We will make available fact sheets and literature about on-going police and law enforcement activity and use them as talking points when addressing the community.

 

We will encourage:

  1. Continued positive law enforcement and community collaboration with a focus on transparency

  2. Direct discussion about any controversy involving the police

  3. The assignment of command-level officers to serve as a liaison

  4. Assistance in developing on-going outreach opportunities

  5. Career opportunities in law enforcement for the People of Color and the underserved populations

ALERT Representation

 

ALERT Partnership are advocates of resolution and do not participate in aggressive, divisive, intimidating, and hostile confrontations.

 

The general community, the religious community, social and political advocates, and community leaders, form our Task Force. Each of our members represents their specific community.

 

Members of the ALERT Task Force have the heart to see lasting change, they work well with other professionals, and have justice, mercy, and truth, as a central component of their character.

 

They are encouraged to exercise patience and gain an understanding of the long-term benefits of the mission in front of us.

    

Youth and Young Adult Populations

 

We dedicate a specific unit of young adult leaders to focus on the youth and young adult population, ensuring that interaction with law enforcement begins at an early age.

 

This encourages a positive perception of law enforcement and builds relationships that will lead to a stronger city.

 

We have collaborated with schools in the Albany City School District to develop engagement opportunities for their students with law enforcement. Over time, this will prove to be the single most effective component in addressing racial disparity in law enforcement hiring.

         

Informing and engaging the community with law enforcement improves public health, public safety, and improves relations.                                             

 

This approach also gives law enforcement direct access to the communities they serve and are commissioned to protect. This…   

  1. Improves public safety through collaboration and information sharing to prevent and combat crime

  2. Dramatically increases community engagement while decreasing bias and hostility towards the police

  3. Proactively creates a direct link between law enforcement administrators and community leaders.  This averts violent and divisive public responses to police-involved incidents while giving voice to public concerns around policing

  4. Build partnerships with mutual understandings, and provides an avenue for residents to assist law enforcement efforts

  5. Change perceived adversaries into allies for social change across racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, professional, and political lines.

 

ALERT has embraced the opportunity to unite and act in harmony with various police agencies since law enforcement should not have to address crime and violence alone.

 

No one entity has the solution to the issues that plague our communities. However, together we can strengthen the much-needed bond between both and break down the wall of distrust that has been built.

 

The Need to Expand

 

ALERT is a proactive organization that remains focused even amidst community unrest. Expanding our mission allows us to develop a greater community and social media presence; create solution-based programs and advocate for the rights of both the community and law enforcement.

These are needed if we are going to have a healthy society where every person is safe, including those who have promised to protect and serve our city, region, and nation.

We are committed to invest time, staffing, resources, and engaging in a cooperative dialogue.

 

Expanding our reach and accomplishing our goals requires greater resources. As we build greater capacity, we broaden our influence and become a stronger voice of reason in our region.

 

We seek partnerships with political, religious, educational, community organizations, businesses, and individuals who see the importance of our mission and the long-range benefits of these associations.

 

Funding is needed to support personnel costs, expand media presence, develop and sustain a software platform.

 

It is also needed to help facilitate the Community Leadership and Law Enforcement Summit held each year. Our One City United and Albany Sports Challenge bring the youth of our city together in a spirit of harmony.

Effectiveness of ALERT

  

Surveys establish a starting point in measuring progress, highlight areas of concern, and provide talking points to engage the community and police in addressing these concerns.

 

Surveys include questions that gauge the community’s perception of and their satisfaction with the policing activity in their area. Community safety, quality of life, police response efficiency, police interaction, and attitudes towards the use of force will be questioned in this survey.

 

Surveys will also be distributed to the law enforcement agencies for their officers, agents, or lawyers to complete.

The implementation of the program’s principles results in communities and police agencies uniting peacefully while promoting greater public safety and better health of our residents.

 

Staffing

 

Our program director serves as facilitator of the program; is the main presenter at all functions and main organizer for our annual One City United - Albany, NY event and our Community Leadership and Law Enforcement Summit.

 

The program director will develop other programs to assist both the community and law enforcement including but not limited to:

  • A program to strategically address the disparity in racial hiring within each agency where appropriate

  • Coordinate informal forums at community meeting places and law enforcement facilities

  • Schedule tours of law enforcement facilities

  • Hold mini-citizen academies designed to increase awareness of the responsibilities and working conditions of police officers

  • Collaborate with law enforcement to plan and implement pro-active crime prevention initiatives

  • Provide semi-annual updates to ALERT and law enforcement agencies

  • Oversee the ALERT youth and young adult Task Force, encouraging their participation in every aspect of the ALERT initiative

  • Coordinate community “ride-a-longs” with representatives from each agency to foster a better understanding by all involved parties

  • Designate the weekend closest on the calendar to May 15th as “Law Enforcement Day.” We will acknowledge specific police officers and Agents, inviting them to be honored guests at a special outreach program

  • Seek fundraising opportunities to build greater capacity

 

ALERT staff is responsible for organizing all events. This includes securing meeting sites, creating promotional material, distributing invitations, coordinating travel, and ensuring that all supplies and equipment are available to all presenters and participants.

Long Term Goal

 

Beyond unifying law enforcement and the communities they serve, is a greater goal of also uniting a city that is fragmented.

 

Through greater city-wide collaboration, we bring the city of Albany together demolishing the invisible walls that separate the underserved living in the South End, Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow, and West Hill from the rest of the city.

 

The capital of New York remains one of the greatest regions in our nation.  It can serve as a model to other cities, counties, and states, signifying what can be accomplished when we work together towards the common goals of peace, equity, liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness for all residents.

 

ALERT:

A necessity in the 21st Century for building bridges between

the community and law enforcement

[Updated November 2020]

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