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Residents respond to Albany PD training drill

ALBANY -- Police continued apologizing to residents of the Ida Yarborough Homes during a neighborhood meeting Monday for a training exercise. Residents remain frustrated because of a lack of notification and its proximity to occupied apartments.

Last Thursday, officers from the Emergency Services Unit used a vacant building to simulate a hostage situation. Several neighbors expressed concern their children were frightened when officers fired blank ammunition and threw flash grenades.

“It's important that we have the training, it's important that we're able to make those realistic, but that the community knows what we're doing and everybody is on the same page,” said Asst. Chief Brendan Cox with the Albany Police Department.

Cox said the department likes to train officers in vacant buildings because it provides real-world scenarios and would work to better inform neighbors when it conducts future trainings.

“I don't care if they have to get out there with bullhorns to tell people this is going on or go door-to-door and make sure you make contact with someone in each household that did not take place,” said City Council President Carolyn McLaughlin.

The Albany Housing Authority said other law enforcement agencies have used the Yarborough buildings. Earlier in March, the U.S. Marshalls trained in the vacant building, which did not result in a complaint. However the authority and police department said they would no longer allow any training at Yarborough.

“I don't think it's a win here. Okay, they agreed they made a mistake, they agreed they wouldn't do it in Ida Yarborough anymore, but they also said they’d do it in other housing projects and if it's inappropriate for Ida Yarborough then it's inappropriate. The door doesn't swing both ways,” said Resident Lauren Manning.

The Housing Authority said it would review the decision to train at other locations and the police do not have any trainings scheduled at public housing.
“I think it's way too early to talk about whether we're going to return to Albany housing,” said Cox.

McLaughlin has asked for the police department to put its pledge not to return to Yarborough in writing so it can be distributed in the neighborhood. Some residents questioned why the department didn’t use a vacant building further away from occupied apartments, but the housing authority said the buildings have been contracted out for construction.
 
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