ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) – Greg McGee of the Albany Police Officers Union told the Eagle Hill Neighborhood Association that morale is at an all-time low with his members, while Albany police dispatchers are understaffed and overworked.
McGee says Albany police can staff 272 officers. Right now they have only 219 officers
For dispatchers he says they can staff 39, but only have 27.
He says those shortages can have real consequences.
“It’s difficult to tell the folks here that there’s nights that they don’t get a police car,” said McGee.
McGee says in some cases officers can work more than a month straight without a day off. Ray Moran was at the meeting and says that’s not safe for a stressful job like policing.
“If an officer goes through two shifts and then gets home and maybe sleeps for a couple of hours and has to do another shift, he’s not going to have the time to be at the top of his game. No way,” Moran said.
McGee says recruiting new officers is also a hurdle since State Police and departments in nearby towns offer higher starting pay. He says dispatchers can be harder to recruit as well since they have to live in the city, while police officers don’t.
Tony Spadaro has lived in Albany for all 84 years of his life. He says the residents deserve the same police and dispatcher services as any other city or town.
“I pay my taxes. Why shouldn’t I have the same kind of police force as Colonie or State Police?” Spadaro said.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office didn’t return a call requesting comment, but she posted on her Facebook page earlier Tuesday asking for people to apply for the open dispatcher positions. She has said in the past that the staffing shortages are due to a misunderstanding about provisional hires. She says the ball is rolling again and that all positions will be filled.
We did reach out to Albany police about their staffing shortages. They tell us they have 16 new recruits in the academy now and are hoping that they’ll graduate in January. They’re also looking into moving the academy into a larger facility to train more recruits at once.