Last month, my colleague Frank Mauriello and I called on State Attorney General Letitia James to launch an investigation into local hotels housing hundreds of migrants in Albany County.
A bombshell report in the New York Times revealed exactly how this national crisis has reared its ugly head in our own backyard. Since the migrants first arrived on Memorial Day weekend earlier this year, there has been a total lack of communication, coordination, and planning, and reportedly poor living conditions at the hotels in our County.
I served for 34 years with the Colonie Police Department as a Victim Specialist. I’ve fought to protect our most vulnerable from abuse and mistreatment my entire adult life. What has happened at the hotels in our County – including one just a few miles from my home in Colonie – is deeply disturbing.
We need a state investigation to verify the safety and wellbeing of the children at this hotel, as well as any other individuals who may have experienced mistreatment at the hands of DocGo, New York City’s contractor for this program. We need that investigation to provide accountability.
I was encouraged to see County Executive Dan McCoy and other local officials recently echo my concerns, and I can only hope that state and federal officials are listening to us.
There are now approximately 700 migrants in Albany County. At least 50 of them at the Colonie hotel are children. Both numbers will surely grow in the months and years to come, as Albany County officials admit the New York City program has affected us perhaps more than any other county upstate.
The school year is set to start soon. The County budget process will begin shortly after. We need to end the chaos and prepare for both.
This is a state and federal emergency that ultimately requires a state and federal solution. In the meantime, it is up to local officials to lead the way forward on accountability and protecting these individuals in local hotels.
Patty Schwarz Lockart
Albany County Legislature