November 25, 2008
Albany City Manager Alfred Lott is about to undertake a vital task-- hiring a new police chief. What kind of person should he look for? We believe he could learn a lot by examining the strengths and weaknesses of outgoing Chief James Younger.
Younger accomplished a lot in a relatively short time on the job. He took over at a time when the Albany Police Department had several dozen vacancies and was suffering through a string of embarrassing arrests of its officers.
In less than three years, he brought the department up to full staff and made sure his officers understood they had to act professionally and honorably.
He reorganized APD's management and made the department more efficient by restructuring beat patrols. He also began laying the groundwork for a new gang task force that should hit the streets next year.
But in some ways Younger never seemed comfortable in his job or committed to staying in Albany long-term. He was criticized for poor communication with other law enforcement agencies, the public, the media, and even his boss.
Our next police chief certainly needs to be an accomplished law enforcer and an excellent manager. But he or she also needs to be a strong communicator who understands the police chief is the face of the department.
We hope Mr. Lott acts quickly but wisely. We hope he picks a new police leader who will build on recent successes at APD and will work hard to strengthen public confidence in the department that works to keep our streets safe.