Members of the Albany Police Department and the Albany Community Police Review Board met Wednesday to develop a new discipline matrix.
Calls for accountability in law enforcement are growing across the country, with conversations happening on a local level.
The Albany Community Police Review Board is working with the Albany Police Department to develop a discipline matrix, which will outline guidelines when it comes to police misconduct.
"What we're seeing not just here, but across the country, is that trust is a key element in terms of effectiveness in how impactful a police department can be in a community," Albany Police Department Chief Eric Hawkins said.
The matrix is intended to reduce the disparities in the disciplinary process. The measure comes out of Local Law J, which gives the independent police oversight agency subpoena and disciplinary power.
Vice chair Veneilya Harden said the review board is the voice of the people.
"We are essentially charged with putting forth the recommendations, the voice of individuals who have been harmed or want to not have to witness harm," Harden said.
The review board operates on a $770,000 budget.
But with only one full-time staff member and a few contracted investigators, they are looking for increased funding to oversee a growing number of cases.
Overall, there are 111 active cases. The board received 24 complaints in 2021 and 40 complaints this past year.
"We need to have additional staff to really see the work come to fruition," Harden said. "Many of us who are working individuals would have to go on our days off, weekends and within the hours of APD to go and review complaints."
The conversation comes as investigations continue into the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis last month.
"When you have a governmental agency who you have members that are abusing authority, then it has an impact on the community," Hawkins said. "What happened in in Memphis? Our hearts go out to all of those who are impacted by that. But we've been working very hard behind the scenes here in Albany for many, many years to avoid situations like that."
The review board is now tasked with putting together a discipline matrix committee and will continue to hold public meetings.