Albany - A dozen officers have been arrested on various charges since 1996. And, the Police Chief did not follow protocol when he hired one of those officers now accused of shoplifting.
City commissioners demanded a review of the Albany Police hiring practices after four APD officers were arrested in just a few months. Commissioners found out that Police Chief Bobby Johnson used his own discretion, not the city's protocol, when hiring Melissa Albritten. She now faces shoplifting charges.
"What surprised me was the three members of the panel recommended not hiring the individual. Then she does ultimately get hired, that's a concern," said Commissioner Bob Langstaff.
Police applicants must undergo an interview by a panel of veteran officers and human resources personnel. The applicant must earn at least an 11 to move forward with employment. Albritten got a 7.6.
The Police Chief says she asked him to review the interview, he did and gave her an 11. Then, he later hired her. Chief Johnson says an appeals process is only fair.
"As Chief, it is incumbent upon me to know what is fair, I think it's only fair that I review to see if she was suitable for the job." The problem is the city has no appeals process now.
"The standard operating procedures call for a specific process," said Commissioner Henry Mathis. "That process, in that particular instance, was not adhered to by the Chief."
The City manager and her staff suggested seven changes to the protocol that would hopefully keep bad cops off the force. One was adding an appeals process and others include using an updated psychological test and checking to make sure no applicant was dishonorably discharged from the military.
City commissioners and the chief say it's impossible to stop all problems, but they can toughen the rules to keep people with criminal or questionable pasts from slipping onto the force.