City manager steps up to defend Albany Police Department - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City manager steps up to defend Albany Police Department

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July 28, 2004

Albany- When bad weather takes out traffic lights, it's the police who risk their lives and stand in traffic to keep us safe.

That builds public trust, but when police are caught breaking the law, public confidence is shaken.

"This is just a fraction of the officers we have representing the Albany Police Department," said Albany City Manager Janice Allen Jackson.

Patrol woman Melissa Albritten was arrested Tuesday for shoplifting in T.J. Maxx in June.

She's been suspended with pay until she's indicted. Along with the criminal investigation, an administrative investigation is being conducted.

Her arrest comes just two weeks after a jury found officer James Thomas guilty of stealing the wallet off a man who lay badly injured in the street.

Police Chief Bobby Johnson is on vacation. In his absence, Jackson says the department must figure out if these officers should have been hired and if the police chief should be held accountable.

"Certainly if it were a case where the appropriate procedures were not followed in this case, certainly some action would be necessary."

It takes three months to screen officers. They go through criminal background checks, psychological exams and polygraph test. Even their credit histories are checked.

"Luckily we're able to weed out people by virtue of the various checks that we do, but unfortunately this one slipped through the cracks."

Now Albritten is accused of almost slipping out of T.J. Maxx with something she didn't pay for.

posted at 5:56 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com