2022 Alert Awards
Albany continues to make strides in bridging the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
In 2021, we had our first Awards ceremony where we honored twenty-one (21) members of the community and the law enforcement agencies that we are in partnership with. The goal of both is to provide an atmosphere for healthy interactions and a foster stronger city.
This year, we are honoring twenty-eight (28) individuals from law enforcement and the City of Albany who takes making our city and region seriously, we call these residents "Albany Community Bridge Builders." These fine men and women have stood the test of time and forged relationships by advocating for the communities they live in. Their mission in life includes making Albany better and stronger through their specific life accomplishments.
What each of these recipients has in common is the fact that they do not want to be recognized for what they do. Most work behind the scenes and even their bios reflect only a small portion of the great impact they have made on our city and region.
On Wednesday, June 15, 2022 we will be celebrating each of these fine men and women who have helped make our city and region better.
Please join the ALERT Partnership, Board of Directors, and Task Force, in congratulating each of this year's Albany Community Bridge Builders. We are blessed and fortunate to have them in our region.
New York State Police Retired Senior Investigator Ed Baskerville was born and raised in the City of Albany. He attended the Albany City School District and graduated from Albany High School as a proud Falcon. He earned a degree in the Arts from Hudson Valley Community College.
He worked for the Golub Corporation and advanced into the company’s Loss Prevention Department as a Loss Prevention Specialist, being supervisor until his resignation in 1989.
Retired S/I Baskerville joined the New York State Police on March 20,1989. He started his career in Troop K, Dutchess County, NY. In 1994 he was assigned to Troop G, in Albany County.
In 2001 Trooper Baskerville was promoted to the rank of Investigator and in 2014 he was promoted to Senior Investigator. He achieved the rank of Sergeant while he was working as an Investigator. He was specially trained in Hate and Bias Crime investigations, and was assigned as a Bias Crime liaison for the NYSP. His final state police assignment consisted of working in the New York State Capitol.
During his career, Trooper Baskerville (ret) was involved in many law enforcement initiatives that were developed to strengthen relationships with the community. He was integral in saving the life of a motorist who crashed after suffering a heart attack while driving on Interstate 90, rendering CPR until the arrival of EMS.
Ed volunteers with Catholic Charities Mobile Outreach and with community food bank initiatives. He wants to see the city flourish and its citizens unite. He has given his time and resources to community improvement, especially in youth development. He is an avid supporter of youth and school sports, having coached many youths in our region.
After more than 32 years, Senior Investigator Baskerville retired from the NY State Police, completing his service in June of 2021.
He is a member of Metropolitan New Testament Mission Baptist Church in Albany, serving on the security ministry team for several years.
Retired Senior Investigator Baskerville resides in the Town of Colonie with his wife Karen and their children Devanee and Dekairi. He works part time conducting investigations for a private firm in East Greenbush, NY.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is proud to honor Retired Senior Investigator, Ed Baskerville as a 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipient.
Jerome Brown has a background in doing security work in the Buffalo, NY area. He has been a community volunteer since his youth, receiving numerous awards for his service at the Westminster Community Center.
Nothing has impacted his life more than Gun Violence. At the age of six his father was robbed and killed in his home. He has a brother who is paralyzed by gunfire while doing security. He has a nephew who was shot and killed at an early age. Jerome has been shot three times. The first two while living a high-risk lifestyle and the third, as a SNUG worker trying to warn an individual of a serious threat to his life.
Jerome joined the Buffalo, NY SNUG outreach in 2015 under the parent organization Back to Basics. SNUG (GUNS spelled backwards) is an evidence-based violence reduction initiative. At the Buffalo, NY SNUG he rose through the ranks from a violence interrupter to an outreach worker supervisor. He was named 2016 SNUG worker of the year for his hard work and mentoring of high-risk youth in the SNUG program.
Mr. Brown became a trainer for New York State SNUG in October 2017. In December 2017, he was a panelist for the NY Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Gun Involved Violence Elimination symposium in Saratoga, NY. He has spoken at many functions for DCJS and SNUG.
Jerome held the position of Program Director for Albany 518 SNUG [Albany Cure Violence] from February 2017 – July 2021. On December 22, 2021, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan honored him by naming December 22nd as “Jerome Brown Day” for his help with the Albany SNUG program and his commitment to changing the lives of those affected by gun violence.
Jerome Brown is the Statewide Training Director for the NY SNUG program through the
Office of Youth Justice at the Division of Criminal Justice Services. He works with all 12 SNUG locations across New York State.
He lives in the Capital Region, and is happy to call it his home.
For these reasons, ALERT is proud to honor Jerome Brown with our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award.
Avery L. Comithier
Bishop Avery L. Comithier was born in Coeymans NY. He graduated from Ravena, Coeymans, Selkirk, (RCS) High School. He attended Hudson Valley Community College, in Troy, NY, and Hartford Seminary, in Hartford, Connecticut.
Bishop Comithier served in the United States Navy being “honorably discharged.” He’s been the pastor of the Elijah Missionary Church for 32 years and was consecrated as Bishop (Anglican Rite) in 2019 in Newburgh, NY.
Bishop Comithier began walking the Albany neighborhoods to engage with youth and prevent them from going down a path of violence. From this, he founded the Pastors on Patrol. Pastors on Patrol partners with the Albany Police Department to hold interventions with teens in a bid to curb rising crime and reduce violence.
Bishop Avery Comithier can be seen patrolling the neighborhood on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week since launching the program in July 2020. He also periodically holds community outreaches. Albany police officers join him and other pastors walking through our Albany neighborhoods and speaking with residents while listening to their concerns.
His desire is to engage the community with police and engage with the young men in our communities. He declares that all praises are due to Yahweh.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is proud to honor Bishop Avery L. Comithier as a 2022 Albany Bridge Builder.
Arica Grimes has the goal of promoting the building of generational wealth through homeownership and financial stability, and building healthy relationships with the local police.
She was born and raised in Troy, NY. At 28 years old, she moved to Albany and is a homeowner in the South End where she raised her children and now can also raise her grandchildren.
Arica worked for a non-for-profit organization collaborating “Grandmas for Charter Schools” and the New York State Senate and Assembly members mentoring program for elementary children. In addition, she was invested in a new Charter School in Albany.
Arica has been in the Mortgage Finance Industry for almost thirty (30) years. She readily shares information and resources that she has access to with her community. She believes that everyone should have equitable opportunities to further their lives so they can “live the American Dream, not just survive.” She is an advocate for all people regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or their financial status in life. This is the “WHY” behind what she does.
She readily gives of her time and resources, and believes that as much as she can, “she is blessed so she can bless someone else.”
Arica has been part of the ALERT Task Force for five (5) years, and we are honored to present her with the 2022 ALERT Albany Bridge Builder award.
[A Batman story]
In a world plagued by fear, in a city haunted by neglect, a dark knight rose....
Born and raised in Albany, New York, Paul committed to helping others after the death of his father when he was three. He helped care for his blind mother as they forged a path together. As Paul grew, programs such as the Big Brother Big Sister program and mentors such as Jim Snyder helped him develop. It was there he learned the importance of caring for others, and how impactful a community can be on a child. Albany’s Batman was born.
After graduating from Albany High and then Siena college, Batman joined with others to launch the nonprofits "Tru Heart Inc" and "PULSE". He worked at a local homeless shelter and began to plan. He served our great city as Director of the Summer Youth Employment Program, providing income and opportunity to local families. Now, Batman is the Executive Director of The RED Bookshelf, where his team of superheroes inspires young readers.
Batman continues to bring others into this league to work with our youth and save the city. This league of concerned individuals became the blueprint for his work moving forward.
In addition to his day job, Batman is on the board for the Albany Fund For Education, he serves as Vice President of Tru Heart, he is on the alumni board of the Sponsor a Scholar program, he is Co-founder of PULSE, he is on the Community Leadership steering committee for the Albany Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion [LEAD] program, he’s the Secretary of the Community Police Review board, and the co-owner of a small business venture.
Despite his humble beginnings, Paul lives by the motto "what I do defines me." His life gives hope to others and his example gives them hope as he lets them know that “Where you begin is not where you must end in life.”
His most important question in life is "how do we move forward." Paul does his best to be the change he wants to see and lead by example. We can all sleep peacefully knowing our Dark Knights are behind us. #SaveTheCity
Kimberly Hansen is a lifelong resident of Albany, NY, where she and her husband currently reside. Kim attended Hudson Valley Community College, the Sage Colleges of Albany, and is currently a student at Liberty University. She is one class away from finishing her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
She is the Executive Director of the South Mall Towers Senior Housing, where she has worked in various roles for nearly 27 years.
Kim’s dedication to the residents of the South Mall Towers and surrounding community was recognized by former Albany Mayor, Gerald Jennings declaring May 22, 2012 “Kim Hansen Day.” Her loyalty, dedication, and hard work in serving the nearly four hundred residents of the “Towers” is an example of the commitment and heart of compassion she has.
Throughout her extensive career at the South Mall Towers, Kim has worked closely with the Albany Police Department. She recently served as a member of the Department’s Community Liaison Partnership (CLP). In this partnership, Kim welcomes new recruits from the Albany Police Department and gives them an opportunity to engage the residents at the South Mall Towers through various projects. Introducing the residents to the police officers strengthens their relationship with law enforcement.
Kimberly Hansen is the proud mother of Chelsea who spent most of her life at the South Mall Towers and is currently an employee. She is the mother-in-law of an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy. When she is not working [which is not often], she enjoys cooking for her family, and spending time with them and her dogs in the Adirondacks.
She has been one of the greatest encouragers and helpers in ALERT for almost five years. For these reasons and more, ALERT is proud to recognize Kim for her dedication to making the lives of the residents of Albany better..
Caren Hicks was born and raised in Albany, New York. She is a product of the Albany Public School system and has a General Educational Development diploma.
After the passing of her mother, at the age of eight (8), she and her six siblings were raised by their father who was a fantastic cook and instilled in her, a lifelong love of cooking.
Caren is the mother of four (4) children, eight (8) grandchildren and five (5) great grandchildren who she states are her “proudest achievements” and the reason she is committed to volunteering. She believes that through volunteering we will make our communities and our world safer.
She was employed with the New York State Higher Education Service Corporation and the St. Peters Addiction Recovery Center, (SPARC). Caren is a proud breast cancer survivor of 13 years. She and her family have a team that walks in the annual Breast Cancer Walk every year.
Caren is on the Board of Directors at South Mall Towers, where she resides as a tenant. She assists with the “Towers” annual National Night Out and other buildings activities. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.
Her passion is to help the senior population with multiple tasks. She volunteers at their breakfast program and runs the store for residents who has limited mobility.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize Caren Hicks with our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award.
Lieutenant Tanya Alix-Hansen is a 22-year veteran of the Albany Police Department.
Tanya was born and raised in Albany. Her father was killed by police when she was six (6) years old, and that incident severely impacted her views of law enforcement moving forward.
While attending Rutgers University on a basketball scholarship she had the opportunity to spend time in the community with members of the New Brunswick, NJ Police Department. Seeing the connections those officers had in the community changed her perspective and career path. Tanya decided to come back to Albany and serve in her own community where she continues to prioritize her efforts.
She graduated from the Zone Five Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2000 and was assigned to South Station Patrol, primarily working on the midnight shift for 14 years.
From 2013-2015, she also served on the department’s Research and Development Team, updating department policies, procedures, and standards in accordance with current laws and nationally recognized best practices.
Tanya was promoted to Sergeant in 2015 and moved on to Center Station Patrol on the midnight shift before her selection in 2020 to the Neighborhood Engagement Unit. As a Sergeant in this unit, she immersed herself in the community accepting various roles in numerous department initiatives including Recruiting, Pastors on Patrol, the Cadet Program, ALERT Partnership (Albany Law Enforcement Resolution Team), T3C3 (Time to Talk – Cops and Community Collaborating), the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and NYPUM (National Youth Project Using Minibikes). She was promoted to Lieutenant in September 2021 and is currently assigned to Patrol.
She is a member of the Walls Temple AME Zion Church. She and her wife, Abby have three children, Jordan, Maddisyn, and Mack.
Catherine “Cat” Jackson Hoke
Catherine Hoke was born May 2, 1928, in Shubuta, Mississippi to Arment McCann and Andrew Jackson.
Along with other relatives (McCanns, Woodards, & Johnsons) Catherine traveled in a convoy from Mississippi and arrived in Albany, NY in the mid-fifties. This journey would later be illustrated in the book, “The Promised Land.” Catherine attended the Albany, New York school system.
Catherine wanted to improve the quality of life for the residents in Albany's South End who were not exposed to available opportunities and accurate information which would improve their quality of life. This information included “tenant rights, housing discrimination, and overcoming racial barriers,” which she witnessed most days.
Ms. Hoke spent many days advocating for the community with Mayor Erastus Corning discussing improvements for the residents of the South End. These meetings resulted in the creation of a Community Garden located at Eagle and Warren streets. Providing this space for families to grow nourishing vegetables was key in supplying the community with healthy and affordable meal alternatives and supplements.
In the late sixties as a Catherine Street resident, twice a year Catherine organized community clean-ups in the neighborhood. A lunch of hotdogs, chips, & soda, was rewarded from donations she received.
Catherine was a Co-founder of Mansion Neighborhood Association. Ensuring that people did not confuse the Mansion Neighborhood Association with the Governor’s Mansion, she developed an acronym for “Mansion” that is still warranted today throughout the city:
M – More A – Action N – Needed for S – Survival I – In O – Our N – Neighborhood.
Catherine was part of the Neighborhood Peoples Action. Collaborating with others from around the country, she attended marches and Hearings for Action in Washington, DC.
She became a “Volunteer In Service To The Elderly” [VISTE] with the United Tenants and was excited to advocate for such causes as Tenant Rights and Housing Discrimination. She led a Rat Control campaign as they were running rampant in our inner-city neighborhoods. She consistently fought to enforce Housing Codes for the City of Albany.
Catherine advocated for the construction of a basketball court on Phillip Street which would keep the youth from getting into trouble. She understood that providing alternatives for the children serves as a deterrent to crime and would give them an opportunity to build social skills that would assist them in life. The Phillip Street Basketball court has been named the Catherine Hoke Basketball Park and is located between Myrtle & Madison Avenues.
Catherine Hoke ended her purpose-filled journey on January 31, 1995. She was predeceased by her son, Dale Jackson.
She is honorably survived by her children; Wayne Jackson, Kent Jackson, Gerald Craig Hoke, Miles Hoke, Todd Hoke, Brad Hoke all of Albany, NY; and Sharon Hoke-Tucker-Moore of Lakeland, FL, and Cathy Gates of Baltimore, MD. Catherine is also survived by grandchildren, great-grandchildren & great-great grandchildren.
The family is grateful for these and many more efforts that Catherine made for the betterment of the people in Albany and around the nation. She has left them a true Legacy of Purpose. They know that if she were still with us, she would still be advocating for and instituting many other community projects.
For these reasons ALERT is proud to present the Family of Catherine Hoke with our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Lieutenant Julia Hotmer-Drao joined the New York State Police on October 1, 1990, and has over 31 years of service. After graduation from the Academy, she was assigned to Troop F, State Police, Catskill where she worked as a uniform Trooper for three years.
In her service, she held several positions that has impacted the NY State Police including the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Investigator on Felony Level criminal cases, Troop G, Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit (CTIU), Computer Crime Unit (CCU), Senior Investigator in the Computer Forensic Laboratory (CFL), and Senior Investigator at State Police, Clifton Park.
In February 2022, she was promoted to Technical Lieutenant and is currently the Division of State Police Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Compliance and Affirmative Action Officer.
Her tenure in the New York State Police reflects the hard work of both uniform and Bureau of Criminal Investigation members. She is reminded daily of the importance of this work, which encompasses the principle of serving, protecting, and defending all people, while preserving the rights and dignity of all.
Lt. Hotmer-Drao has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University at Albany. She is a part time adjunct instructor at Bryant & Stratton College in Albany, where she teaches undergraduate courses in criminal justice.
Over the past year, she has worked with ALERT in engaging the NY State Police with our community events and have served as an informational resource to our organization.
Julia has three grown children and resides in the Town of New Scotland with her husband, Peter, and their dog, Lucy.
For these reasons ALERT is proud to present the Julia Hotmer-Drao with our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Ms. Celeste Knight is a Community Advocate, State Committeeperson, Deputy Ward Leader, Judicial Delegate, County Committeeperson, and a trailer blazer. She has dedicated her life to helping the underserved populations in the region. She is an outstanding community leader and grass roots organizer.
Ms. Knight joined the NYS Legislature in May 1997, later serving in the Senate as the Assistant to the Press Secretary to Minority Conference and then as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Minority Leader.
Celeste became the Special Assistant to the NYS Senate Democratic Conference Leader. As Special Assistant, she worked directly with the Democratic Conference Leader to implement community reinvestment addressing the needs of socially and economically disadvantaged populations throughout New York State.
She currently works as Program Director for the Senate Services Internship in Production Program, for the New York State Senate Majority. She served as the Fiscal Liaison for the New York State Senate Democratic Conference and was responsible for the fiscal integrity and management of all capital and discretionary funding allocations.
Ms. Knight has published numerous directories and guides that impact communities around the state. Most notably, “Pathways to Funding” a monthly publication intended to provide organizations and individuals with support in finding and applying for grants, and “The Road To Reentry,” a guide that enables ex-offenders to locate the resources and programs needed after incarceration.
Her achievements are evident in the programs implemented during her tenure. In those achievements she became an Albany County Democratic Committee Ward Leader representing the 5th Ward and is the Judicial Delegate for the 108th Assembly District (AD). She recently won re-election to represent the 108th AD on the NYS Democratic State Committee.
Celeste Knight serves on the Albany County Democratic Committee Women of Distinction Committee and the City of Albany West Hill/West End Revitalization Steering Committee. She previously served on City of Albany Equity Agenda Advisory Committee; Executive and Candidate Review Committees of Albany County Democratic Committee; Albany County Land Bank Community Advisory Committee; Brighter Choice Foundation Board of Trustees; and Board of Directors for Art Partners and Company.
Her most recent collaboration is with local artists from the Capital District creating the Summer Soul Series, which is a cultural explosion of information, music, art, and spoken word. The impact has enhanced the quality of life and developed solutions for people in need. In addition, she has promoted greater participation in the electoral process, and has inspired and changed the lives of thousands beyond her community.
Celeste works tirelessly to ensure that the needs and concerns of the community are heard and addressed. Her efforts have empowered constituents and have brought more attention to the disparities in the political process. She works extensively with not for profits, faith-based initiatives, and local organizations that focus on seniors, youth, and veterans.
Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Collective Leadership Coalition of Albany, Celeste is a lifelong Albany resident who builds and promotes alliances with everyone and all organizations. She is a passionate community advocate, who fights for issues that affect our quality of life and works tirelessly to “Move Our Community Forward.”
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize Celeste Knight as one of our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Special Agent Matthew Johnson started his career in law enforcement in July 2010 as a Vermont State Trooper with the Vermont State Police. He completed the rigorous and competitive selection, hiring, and training process, to join the FBI. In 2018, he graduated the famed FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, as an FBI Special Agent.
Special Agent Johnson's first field office assignment was out of the Mobile, Alabama Field Office. He worked various Federal criminal violations, to include crimes against children, civil rights, public corruption, major theft, and murder for hire. In 2021, he transferred to the Albany Field Office where he currently works on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
Many of the threats that are investigated by the JTTF involve threats to houses of worship, schools, and businesses. In his work investigating these threats, Special Agent Johnson has recognized that durable bonds with the community are vital to ensuring the safety of the community. Through his tireless efforts he helps to ensure that the FBI is seen as a valuable partner, and a resource.
In the continuing era of civil unrest and a global pandemic, Special Agent Johnson has continued to meet with members of the communities he serves, including faith-based organizations. This gives the residents an outlet to vent their frustrations and concerns while developing sustainable solutions to the societal issues we face. This dialogue is invaluable in the FBI's work to protect the American public and uphold the Constitution.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize Special Agent Matthew Johnson as one of our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Deryl McCray is a native of Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Cleveland High School in Seattle in 1990 and enlisted in the United States Army. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Persian Gulf War.
As a US Army veteran he served our country as an Army Paratrooper and participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. After his honorable discharge in 1994 he relocated to Albany, NY.
In 1999, Deryl opened Brick’s Barber Shop which has become an Albany landmark. Brick’s is a foundation to community service for Deryl and his passion to help and assist in areas of community development. He has brought the community together to discuss ways to curb gun violence, crime, and to make the lives of the residents better. He has woven himself into the fabric of the city and has committed his life to serving and assisting the community by advocating for peace and prosperity.
Deryl serves as president of the Albany District of the 369th Veterans Association. The 369th “Hell-fighters Infantry Regiment.” This is an Association of Veterans who are active in the battle to improve the quality of life in Albany amid a surge in street violence.
The organization supports the Sgt. Henry Johnson Jr. Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Battalion at Albany High School. The ROTC is a college program that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military.
Over the years, Deryl, other Veterans Association, and community members have successfully lobbied to get Sgt. Henry Johnson of Albany, posthumously awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his battlefield bravery in World War I.
Each year Deryl has led other barbers and businesses in donating school supplies and backpacks for hundreds of our school children. For years Deryl and his barbers have given our children free haircuts at the start of each school year. They also give free haircuts to hundreds of veterans during an annual homeless veteran’s stand-down at the Elks Lodge in Latham.
Currently a Vocational Instructor with NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Deryl continues serving, sharing, and instructing, incarcerated Individuals to become proficient in barbering by working towards a NYS Barbering License.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize Deryl McCray as one of our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Javier Martinez is currently an Investigator at the Town of Colonie Police Department. Javier earned a master’s degree in International Crime and Justice from John Jay College.
Investigator Martinez started his career in Law Enforcement in 2013 as a Deputy Sheriff for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. He transferred to the Bethlehem Police Department and from there, joined the Colonie Police Department in 2015.
His service to the Town of Colonie began while working for the department’s Youth Court program as an advisor. Javier has spent most of his time in the Patrol division, and recently was a member of the departments training unit.
After completing his field training, he was assigned to the C-Line shift until August of 2021. He was transferred to the Administrative Services Division and assigned to the Training Unit. In 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Investigator.
Investigator Martinez has received numerous awards for his dedication to duty and for his selfless actions in confronting the criminal element in Colonie making the community a safe place to live.
He was the recipient of the Life Saving award for his actions in saving the life of a resident in medical distress. He has received the Command Recognition award six times. These incidents included criminal interdiction work where illegally possessed drugs and guns were seized. Additionally, two of his command recognition awards were for confronting and deescalating situations with armed suspects who threatened public safety.
Investigator Martinez’ greatest asset to the police department is the enthusiasm and positive attitude he brings to work each day. He makes his co-workers want to work with him and his supervisors want to supervise him.
In his spare time, Javier is a head instructor for the Wildwood Undisputed Champions Program – a boxing program for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. In 2021, Javier earned the Colonie Police Departments distinguished service award. He is an officer that’s committed to making his community a better place for all.
Here is a link to a video of Investigator Martinez working with the Undisputed Champions program. https://www.wildwoodprograms.org/index.php/news/126-undisputed-champions-fall-2016
Javier is happily married, and has two small children. He serves with the goal of making this world a safer, and happier place for his family and others to live and thrive in.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize Investigator Javier Martinez as one of our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Ralph Peltier is a lifelong resident of Albany County and a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College.
He started his law enforcement career with the Albany County Sheriff’s office in 1998 as a corrections officer at the Albany County Correctional Facility.
Ralph worked his way through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of Major. During his time at the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, he collaborated with community partners on several prison programs focusing on reducing the recidivism rate of incarcerated individuals.
Currently, Ralph oversees the Sheriff’s Homeless Improvement Program (SHIP). With the implementation of SHIP’S, the name of the facility was changed to the Albany County Corrections and Rehabilitative Services Center. This Services Center houses homeless and transient populations in Albany County in a converted jail building.
This program assists homeless individuals by providing them with shelter, food, employment searches. As well as programing and resources to help them get back on their feet, eventually into their own apartment, and become productive residents in Albany County.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is proud to recognize Major Ralph Peltier as a 2022 Albany Bridge Builder.
Marilyn P. Morey
Marilyn Morey served our nation as the Victim/Witness Specialist and Community Outreach Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York. She worked out of their Albany, New York Office.
Most notably, Marilyn was instrumental in creating and implementing the LEADership Project. The acronym stands for “Legal Education And Decision-making.”
The LEADership Project is an anti-gang training program for fifth-grade students. By partnering with local school districts, it reaches classrooms in the Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Lansingburgh, School Districts.
Working with fifth graders, the objective is to help them stay out of gangs while steering them away from crime and focusing on what they can become by making positive decisions to get there.
Beginning in 2010, under Marilyn’s guidance the LEADership Project was taught by over eighty (80) law enforcement volunteers from federal, state, and local agencies, in over eighty (80) school classrooms each year through 2019. During these interactions, the students learned why these law enforcement servants went into the type of work they did and what education path and experience they needed to achieve their goal.
When asked who can help them stay away from gangs, the students named their parents, teachers, police officers, and their LEADership instructors.
Albany School Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams stated:
“The LEADership Project is an excellent example of the type of community partnership that is so important to helping our students learn to make good decisions and build strong relationships. Our students are building visions of themselves as adults, and this program is supporting them in taking positive first steps down those pathways to successful futures.”
Former US Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated:
“The LEADership Project is about investing in our children, and thus in the future of our community.
Marilyn retired from her service at the US Attorney’s Office in 2021. Thank you Marilyn for developing and implementing this critical “Project.”
For these reasons and more, ALERT is proud to recognize Marilyn Morey as a 2022 Albany Bridge Builder.
Captain Prest has been a member of the City of Albany’s Fire Department for 19 Years. He currently works out of Engine Company 11 located on New Scotland Avenue in the Pine Hills Neighborhood of Albany.
In addition to the pride and dedication Captain Prest displays as a first responder in protecting this portion of the City of Albany, he also makes it a priority for this Firehouse to be a valued member of the neighborhood.
Captain Prest and the Firefighters of this Company take pride in their property, making sure that landscaping is always maintained as well as elaborately decorating the Engine 11 Firehouse for Halloween, Hanukkah, and Christmas. The members of this Firehouse are often found outside greeting neighbors walking by and handing out treats to dogs who stop in for a visit.
At Christmastime, Captain Prest organizes a toy drive at the Engine 11 Firehouse, where members of the neighborhood, friends and families of Firefighters, and residents of Albany can stop by and drop off toys and gifts that are donated to Albany’s South End Children’s Café. This tradition has grown in the years that Captain Prest has been organizing it. Now, multiple truckloads of toys are delivered to the South End Children’s Cafe ensuring that all children have at least one toy to open for the holidays.
Captain Prest is a dedicated supporter in the fight against breast cancer. Every year the Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) holds its annual “Pink Bus Pull.” His is a fundraiser for community organizations to assemble a team and pull a pink CDTA bus in the fastest time possible. The money raised is donated to the “Real Men Wear Pink” Campaign of the American Cancer Society.
Chief Joe Gregory and the Albany Fire Department is proud to call Captain Michael Prest one of “Albany’s Bravest” and is even more proud and truly honored to nominate him for the 2022 ALERT Community Champion Award.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to acknowledge Captain Michael Prest for his efforts by presenting him as one of ALERT’S 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Thomas M. Praisner
Commander Praisner is a lifelong resident of Albany County. He is a graduate of the University at Albany with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. In addition, he is a graduate of Schenectady Community College with an associate degree in Criminal Justice.
He joined the Albany County Sheriff’s Office in 2013 as a Deputy Sheriff. Promoted to the Rank of Investigator responsible for community related events as one of the Community Liaison Officers.
Commander Praisner was promoted to Sergeant in charge of Albany County Family Court dealing directly with the youth as Juvenile Delinquents, Persons in need of Supervision (PINS), and with adolescent offenders and New York States’ Raise the Age program. The Raise the Age program focuses on keeping young men and women out of the criminal justice system. It ensures that young people who commit non-violent crimes, receive the intervention and evidence-based treatment they need.
In January 2022, Thomas Praisner was promoted to the rank of Commander currently serving the residents of Albany County.
Commander Praisner always wanted to be a Police Officer. Not to embellish with arrests or the issuance of tickets, but to have the ability to genuinely help people. To him, taking the oath of office means that he must maintain transparency and communication with the public, so both civilians and law enforcement are on the same page.
During his tenure in law enforcement, he has demonstrated his desire to every Albany County resident that is in need, regardless of socioeconomic status, educational attainment, gender, race, ethnicity, or religion.
Commander Praisner has been an ardent supporter of our efforts in ALERT, and we are better because we have partnered with him and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
For these reasons and more, we are pleased to recognize Commander Thomas Praisner as one of our 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Marggie has been an avid community supporter and worker since she came to Albany more than 50 years ago, As a young mother, she joined the League of Women Voters where she currently serves as Treasurer. There she spearheads the League's efforts to bring civic awareness into the high schools by registering students to vote and providing useful information to their teachers and administrators.
She is a volunteer at the City Mission Free Medical Clinic; Residents Encounter Christ; and St. Vincent's Food Pantry. The Residents Encounter Christ is a program of the Catholic Diocese of Albany. It provides religious support to incarcerated people.
At St. Vincent's, she is part of a team that coordinates their participation in the Family Promise program. This program serves families in need of housing by offering shelter at a local church until they can move into a more permanent home. She and her husband serve as hosts at the shelter, providing overnight assistance once a week.
Mrs. Skinner was always involved in civic activities. She was part of the creation of the Neighborhood Resource Center and the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations (CANA) in the 1970’s. She served as vice-chair for the first 20 years of CANA and then as Chair from 1996-2001. She served as the president of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association for many of those years.
She served on the board of the Food Pantries of the Capital District. She served as Interim Executive Director for several months. She served on the Community Leadership Team for the LEAD program as it began to operate in the City of Albany.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to acknowledge Marggie Skinner’s efforts by presenting her as one of ALERT’S 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
John Scott is the Co-Founder & Chief Programming Officer at 4th Family Inc.
Born and raised in Albany, New York, he attended public school until the ninth grade. Because of his academic and sports ability, he received a scholarship to The Albany Academy. After graduating from Albany Academy, he played college basketball and in 2012, he was the first person in his family to graduate from college.
John always had a strong desire to help others. At fifteen (15) years old, he was the director of his own basketball camp at the Albany YMCA. He allowed the residents of public housing to attend for no cost. In addition, he had an enrichment program and took kids on field trips.
In the summer of 2011, one of his 15-year-old players was murdered at a house party. Shortly after his funeral, John decided to make it his life’s mission to do what he could do to change his community.
At 4th Family, he wears many hats with responsibilities that oversees the 4th Family programs in the Albany City School District, helping young people find employment, and leading mentoring workshops for young adults recently released from prison.
Through the utilization of his basketball network, Mr. Scott has exposed disadvantaged inner-city youth across the United States to career opportunities in occupations where minorities are drastically underrepresented, specifically in the STEM profession.
John is dedicated to working towards a society that conveys integrity, encourages education, produces leaders, and fosters growth for the ascension of the individual and the community. 4th Family has partnerships with higher education institutions including Princeton and Columbia University.
Since 2011, the work of 4th Family has been recognized by ESPN, the NBA, Google, Microsoft, Beyond Sports, the MIT Sports Analytics Conference, and many others.
Thank you, John, for being a positive role model.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to recognize John Scott as a 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award.
Eric Sprague has considered Albany his “hometown” since coming to the area in 1985 and meeting his wife, Kim. Eric and Kim have been married for thirty-six (36) years, have five (5) children ranging in age from 16 to 35 and six (6) beautiful grandchildren.
Eric is a 14-year veteran of the armed forces. He served in the United States Navy and the New York Army National Guard.
Mr. Sprague has 32 years of combined dedicated service with the local law enforcement community. He is a retired Albany Police Department officer and currently serves as an investigator with the Albany County District Attorney’s office.
Throughout Eric’s law enforcement career, he has been committed to the principles of community policing, building relationships, and helping people from all walks of life and circumstances. He has served for 20 years as a Board member for the South Mall Towers.
Eric’s greatest passion is his love for the Lord. As an ordained Minister he feels privileged to consistently incorporate the doctrines of his faith with his role in his secular profession. He oversees For His Purpose Ministries. Working with his wife and family, this outreach finds community needs and meets them through the love of the Gospel.
Eric serves as a primary facilitator for the Capital Region Cops for Christ which has been in existence since 2010. He has attended ALERT’s planning meetings, our events, and has supported our efforts wholehearted for over five years.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to acknowledge Eric Sprague’s efforts by presenting him as one of ALERT’S 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
Andre M. Speller
Andre Speller is this year’s ALERT Partnership representative of Albany’s youth.
He is preparing to enter this upcoming school year at Albany High as a Junior. He is an exemplary student. Throughout his school tenure, Andre has consistently made the honor Roll with most of his achievements being on the Principal’s List. He is in the Albany High School band and has his options open for his future career.
He wants to see community and law enforcement relationships strengthened with the younger population and the violence in our city and region diminished. He consistently wonders what can be done to make life better for everyone.
He has worked behind the scenes assisting ALERT with their community engagement events over the past four (4) years and has gone on tour at the J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Headquarters in Washington DC.
Mr. Speller has inspired the development of a plan to get other youth involved in community and law enforcement efforts. This plan will honor them with their own special ceremony each year through our efforts at ALERT.
He is the oldest son of Kantrell, and lives with his two brothers, Richard, and Romario.
ALERT is proud to honor Andre M. Speller as this year’s youth representative for our Albany Bridge Builder award.
Officer Dan Vandeyar has served the University at Albany Police Department and its greater community since 2014 and has a deep commitment to community engagement.
He currently works in the Department’s Community Response Unit where he divides his time between community outreach and responding to incidents involving crisis or trauma.
Dan’s approach is grounded in positive conflict resolution and procedural justice. He easily engages the community by actively listening to their needs and mutually developing solutions.
Officer Vandeyar has the keen insight that empowers a victim of trauma, he gains cooperation from an offender, and gives the time, understanding, and empathy necessary to help someone in crisis.
ALERT is honored to have a partnership with the University at Albany’s Police Department. He is a living example of community Policing in the 21st Century.
We are equally pleased to recognize Officer Daniel Vandeyar as one of this year’s Albany Bridge Builders award recipients.
Sheri Stevens is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) with 20 years' experience in the human services industry. After 12 years at Parsons Child and Family Center she moved to the University at Albany's School of Social Welfare as the Director of the Community and Public Service Program (CPSP). Her focus is on University-Community engagement, working to meet the needs of our local community and community partners.
The Community and Public Service Program works to build the capacity of local organizations by providing the opportunity for undergraduates to serve their community as part of their academic program at the University of Albany. Students volunteer to serve in nonprofit and public partner organizations for either 35, 60 or 100 hours throughout the course of a semester. She also recruits college student volunteers for community events.
She served on the board of directors of AVillage Inc., in Albany's South End, from 2016-2022. She currently sits on the board of directors of Refugee and Immigrant Services of Emmaus (RISSE) as co-chair of the Family Services Committee.
She has been an ardent supporter of ALERT since its inception in 2014. Her assistance, advice, and encouragement has served to give our organization direction and stability in and for the city.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to acknowledge Sheri Stevens efforts by presenting her as one of ALERT’S 2022 Albany Bridge Builder award recipients.
David Zon is a native of Buffalo, New York. He began his law enforcement career in 1989 as a Special Agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation prior to joining the DEA in 1995. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1989. He received a master’s degree in Human Resources Training and Development from Seton Hall University in 2011.
David Zon was assigned as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, Albany District Office, in May 2016. He is responsible for all enforcement and administrative matters involving the Syracuse, Albany, and Plattsburgh, DEA Offices in New York State.
Mr. Zon served as the ASAC at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico Virginia. His responsibilities included oversight of leadership and supervisory training, in-service and specialized training for all DEA employees, and certification training for state and local law enforcement officers in clandestine laboratory operations, and other areas of specialization. He was also responsible for the administrative section for the Office of Training.
ASAC Zon was a member of the Field Advisory Council. He served as an Inspector for the Office of Professional Responsibility, Northeast Field Office. This area of responsibility included the New York, New Jersey, New England, and Philadelphia, Field Divisions. He conducted investigations of waste, fraud, and abuse involving DEA Employees.
Mr. Zon has also been assigned as a Resident Agent in Charge of DEA’s Rochester Resident Office; and as a Special Agent in DEA’s Dover, Delaware Post of Duty (Philadelphia Field Division), Bogota, Colombia Country Office, New York Divisional Office, and the Atlanta Divisional Office.
Since partnering with ALERT, ASAC Zon has been an avid supporter of our mission, has been involved in our community events, and has served as a source of information and greater community connections and engagement with other organizations.
For these reasons and more, ALERT is honored to acknowledge David Zon’s efforts by presenting him as one of ALERT’S 2022 Community Bridge Builder award recipients.
Daniel Webster was born and raised in Albany, New York. He currently serves the residents of Albany in the Albany Police Department (APD).
He is a graduate of Albany High School and Hudson Valley Community College. Before law enforcement officer Webster worked for the Albany City School District and was the director for Albany Community Centers.
Officer Webster has been an Albany police officer for over seventeen (17) years and is currently a Community Service officer. He worked patrol for nine (9) years and then joined the Neighborhood Engagement Unit (NEU) in the Delaware Avenue area, later joining the Lark Street NEU. He can be seen interacting with Albany residents at community organizations such as the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless.
Daniel is presently the Police Athletic Leagues (PAL) liaison officer for the Albany Police Department and has been a PAL volunteer for sixteen (16) years. PAL works within the Albany community to create a bond between the youth and law enforcement of Albany. They accomplish this through a variety of after-school activities, summer camps, clubs, and sports programs. You can observe Daniel bonding with the youth throughout the year. PAL serves approximately two thousand (2,000) Albany youth annually. Officer Webster has received an award from PAL for his service.