In Albany County and across New York state we are witnessing a major spike in crime that has shaken our local communities. Stabbings, robberies and shootings are becoming increasingly prevalent and claiming headline after headline. With nine homicides already this year, all in the City of Albany, our county is on its way to surpassing last year’s homicide total. These tragedies have sparked debate as to what caused this rise in crime and bloodshed.
New York’s infamous bail “reform” laws went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. This legislation eliminated cash bail and pretrial detention for most misdemeanors and numerous felonies including manslaughter in the second degree, promoting a sexual performance by a child, and aggravated vehicular assault. It also removed judicial discretion which allowed judges to hold individuals who they believed to be dangerous. Since implementation of this dangerous legislation, I’ve read countless stories of the individuals and families who have been victimized as a result.
On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the Colonie Police Department responded to the report of a burglary at the Home 2 Suites at 10 Metro Park Road. Officers identified three suspects and upon finding the stolen property all three were charged. One of the offenders had already been arrested by the Colonie police eight times in 2021 for charges including assault, robbery, larceny, and identity theft. Another suspect had been arrested seven times in 2021. Unsurprisingly, one of these perpetrators was just arrested again by Colonie police on Monday, July 5 for at least the 17th time this year by Capital District police agencies.
These individuals pose an imminent threat to public safety and should not be freely roaming in our communities. While some have characterized this rise in violence as a gun issue, it is really a proliferation of lawlessness stemming from bail-reform and the other crime and anti-police policies being propagated in our state. It also results from a failure by state leadership to crack down on the individuals and gangs committing these acts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest executive order declaring gun violence as a disaster emergency blatantly ignores the root cause of the alarming crime surge we’re experiencing in New York.
We are fortunate to have an outstanding police department in Colonie. In fact, the Colonie Police Department participates in an accreditation program through New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and is one of the few police departments in New York state that have been accredited for the past 25 years running. In order to ensure our Police Department continues to perform at such a high level, Colonie residents must elect officials who will support them and provide the resources needed to keep our community safe.
We should also call on state legislators to adopt common sense crime legislation. Republicans in the state Assembly recently proposed the “Restore Order Anti-Crime Initiative” to combat high crime rates. Among other things, this initiative removes gun crimes from the list of eligible bail offences and restores judicial discretion to allow judges the ability to determine whether a violent criminal poses a dangerous threat to the community and can be held without bail. This is the bold action needed during these troubling times.
More and more we’re seeing the damage caused by New York state’s poorly-written bail reform laws. While some blame guns and an unfair system for this uptick in crime, we should blame the bad apples who break the law and jeopardize public safety. I’d like to thank Sheriff Craig Apple, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, the Colonie Police Department, as well as the other law enforcement personnel in our county for all they do to keep our communities safe. State lawmakers must work to amend our state’s criminal justice laws, but until then, and thereafter, we should continue trusting our brave men and women in blue.
Albany County Legislature