Updated 04/09/2008 11:40 AM
Mobile police station unveiled
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Albany police unveiled what they called an innovation in crime fighting. It's a police station on wheels, complete with seating for ten, an online booking station, radio communication and two computers. All are pieces of technology good enough to do everything from writing traffic tickets to tracking trouble.
"This is a proactive vehicle. Moving a mobile police station to an area where we can operate out of, have meetings during a shift to strategize moving personnel and coordinating that type of information," said Albany Police Chief James Tuffey.
The 36-foot long RV was bought with grant money from Operation Impact, which is a state program attempting to fight violent and gun crimes. Its first stop was in Arbor Hill, a few blocks from where two teens were shot about a week ago.
"That's a good thing to have it like that to make the area very nice to make people slow down and what they're doing, and about the shootings and all that stuff," said Arbor Hill store owner Abdul Nasser.
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So, for $130,000, the police can beef up their presence wherever it's needed and for as long as it takes. If it truly does cut down on crime, you could say the price is right.
"I think it's going to send a message that we are back in the community. We want to be back in the community with the people and that's always the goal here. It's very simple, it says Albany Police Department. We want people to come up to it, say hello to us, we're there for them," Tuffey said.
While the police chief said having the mobile unit set up in neighborhoods will help to cut down on crime, people living here in the neighborhood say it might do more harm than good.
"It makes you wonder what's going on. You know, you're surprised to see it," said Arbor Hill resident Sharon Van Houter.
Van Houter has lived in Arbor Hill for years and hopes the mobile unit's presence will lead to more police pounding the pavement around it. Councilman Corey Ellis agrees.
"According to the reorganization plan, the community was expecting to see more cops on the beat. And I didn't get informed that there was going to be a bus, or a van in the middle of a very busy intersection," Ellis said.
While the mobile station may have new bells and whistles, and of course wheels, Ellis said it's not much different than the stationary brick and mortar station that was shut down when the force was restructured.
"You take away our police station and a police station could do the same thing a mobile station could do. It has police officers in there, it would have police officers walking the beat which we don't have consistently in this neighborhood," Ellis said.
That's why Ellis said all the innovation in the world is no substitute for filling the streets with police on patrol.