APD at full strength, but with inexperience - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

APD at full strength, but with inexperience

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May 2, 2008

Albany --  As they rebuild, the Albany Police Department is young and inexperienced. A third of the officers have less than two years experience. But they are on the fast track for training.

Albany Police Patrol Officer Tim Hood is wrapping up his fifth week as a cop, training on the streets with a supervisor.

 "Everyday you are learning something. And I've been with quite a few who have been here for a year or two. And they are always picking up something," Hood said.

After 22 years in the Air Force, Hood is starting his second career as a police officer, joining many other inexperienced officers in APD. Over a third of the approximately 180 Certified Officers have less than two years experience.

The average experience level for the entire Department is just seven years. Two and a half years ago APD was 40 officers short. Now they are back to full strength, but with more inexperienced officers.

" It takes about three years to develop a seasoned, experienced police officer. So we do have to some extent some experience that needs to be developed," Chief James Younger said.

Younger says this is a common situation across the country, with a nationwide shortage of experienced Police Officers

So APD has stepped up what he calls a Professional Development Plan, training through scenario experience exercises, emphasizing safety, hitting the inexperienced officers with extra testing on how to deal with the public and legal knowledge.

But Chief Younger says newer officers have some good points. "They have a high level of enthusiasm. They have a high level of interest in the job. They have a willingness to learn. Less resistant to change."

The inexperienced officers get more one on one mentoring. Officer Hood is riding this week with Corporal William Dowdell, an 11 year veteran, who says it is good to have more cops on the streets.

"It taxes us veteran officers, that have been here longer. Because we are constantly checking on them, making sure things are going right for them too. To push them ahead, to make sure they get where they need to be at, to make the department successful," Dowdell said.

Dowdell and Chief Younger agree, the department is much improved with the new officers, and getting better with more experience everyday.

The average age of officers at APD is 30.

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