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Anger over unannounced police drill

A photo shared on Facebook of police involved in a hostage training scenario at buildings that are scheduled to be demolished at Ida Yarbourgh Apartments in Albany March 21, 2013. Albany police said they're reviewing training procedures after complaints about the proximity of tear gas and the release of fake ammunition to apartments that are still occupied.Times Union – by Lauren Stanforth


Chelsey Morales said police confined her to an apartment.

Thurston Gross said police threatened to arrest him for trespassing as he tried to get to his own home.

What happened at Ida J. Yarbrough Homes Thursday during a police training exercise was unacceptable, said residents and community advocates at a lively meeting of the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association on Monday night at the Arbor Hill/West Hill Library.  

Albany Police Department‘s SWAT team conducted a hostage rescue drill in a vacant apartment at the public housing complex, just a few yards away from occupied homes.

Residents heard gunfire, flash grenades and breaking glass, and said they had no idea it was a training exercise.

“It looked like a small military operation complete with fatigues and full gear,” said Ida Yarbrough resident Lauren Manning, who said her 4-year-old child is still shaken up. “Children should not be exposed to that, not on television, not on radio and definitely not in real life.”

On Saturday, Police Chief Steven Krokoff said it was “insensitive” to conduct a drill near the occupied apartments.

Deputy Police Chief Brendan J. Cox, who attended Monday’s neighborhood meeting, said there was a breakdown in communication.

Cox said police officers met with the building manager and had visited the apartments Tuesday night to inform neighbors of the upcoming training exercise on Thursday morning, but residents in the audience — including the president of the tenants association — said nobody was told.

“You can’t bring me one person who was notified,” Gross said.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Cox, who said police need to do a better job of informing neighbors about training exercises near their homes.

Jay Cunningham, director of security operations for Albany Housing Authority, said there will be no more tactical training in Ida Yarbrough, but he would not rule out training exercises at other public housing properties.

Albany police often use vacant buildings owned by the housing authority for training exercises, as do other agencies. The U.S. Marshals Service performed a training exercise at Ida Yarbrough earlier this month. The training exercises are necessary and save lives, Cox and Cunningham said.

Two Ida Yarbrough residents said they like having police training at the housing complex and believe it makes their neighborhood safer. Most didn’t like it.

Corrie Terry of Albany and founder of Mothers Against Murders and Shootings, said the incident made residents feel “devalued.”

“Children shouldn’t have to walk through simulated war zones,” Terry said. “We need to be valued as a people that have a right to live without fear.”

Residents said the problems were compounded by the way they were treated during the drill.

Gross was trying to get to his apartment, but he said police would not let him walk through the training area and told him to walk around the block to get to his apartment. He said police threatened to charge him with trespassing.

Morales said one officer forced her to stay inside an apartment where she was baby-sitting a child. Cox said nobody should have been confined to their apartment.

The police department will help bring in trauma counselors for children and residents upset by the training exercise, Cox said.

A protest of the police’s training has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Livingston Avenue and North Pearl Street. • 518-454-5348

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10 Responses to Anger over unannounced police drill

  1. anne says:

    the military and/or police should not do these drills in public. Period. We are not a 3rd world nation.

    • NC says:

      I’ve been saying that for the past couple of years now. You’re preaching to the choir, girl.

      The people that continue to do these are beasts of the Earth and are not human. It’s all a part of getting us accustomed to Martial Law, which we basically already have now. I don’t think they will ever come out and just say, “Hey, everyone, we are now under martial law”. They’ll just do it, like they do everything else until someone puts a bullet in their backs.

  2. Sunfire says:

    Just another “desensitizing” drill designed to make people think that the police state is “normal” and “good for their safety”.

  3. REDHORSE says:

    “Two Ida Yarbrough residents said they like having police training at the housing complex and believe it makes their neighborhood safer.” Really?Safer?Hook line and sinker.Getting the sheeple used to what will come later like say at 3:00 am.Looks like some of them are already goooood sheep.

    • NC says:

      Those two residents were probably the only two residents in the neighborhood who they could bribe to say such a thing. I don’t think they would say it willingly. And if they did, then they are the only two sheep left in the neighborhood who they could find that are dumb enough to believe it.

  4. Leita says:

    THEY don’t want you to know. SURPRISE ATTACK!

  5. milidude says:

    Would it not be ironic if some black moose-hunter came out of the mist and took one of these para-mil groups completely out!?…….no-one would know if it was live or a drill and the moose hunter could simply blend back into the woodwork after his guerrilla work was done.

  6. diggerdan says:

    What would have happened if there was a medical emergency requireing a ambulence, what would have happened if there was a vet that had one of those flashbacks they always talk about?, what would have happened if someone got out the rifle and started shooting people misinterpereting what was going on. Who would have been at fault?

  7. stk33 says:

    Despite these drills, whenever something really happens where the skills acquired at such a drill would come handy, we only hear that the police “have established the perimeter”. I wonder if anybody can recall a single case where police/swat has actually entered the dangerous zone and prevented loss of life. Somehow that never happens, and for a good reason: for the police #1 priority is their own safety, so whenever there’s real danger, they stay away and enter the scene only when the attacker has been already dealt with one way or another; their #2 priority is enforcing the law, which is why the perimeter, so the criminal wouldn’t escape. Protecting anybody is not on the agenda and practically never happens in real life – the real encounters swat teams engage are drug raids, breaking into homes at 5AM and holding people in the bed under the gun. The line about these drills increasing the safety is 100% false.

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