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Posted on: April 19, 2021

Statement from Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Council President Corey Ellis, and City Treasurer

ALBANY, NYAlbany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Council President Corey Ellis, and City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar have released the following statement regarding the proposed tear gas ban before the Albany Common Council:

“We applaud the Council’s desire to address our community’s concerns about the use of tear gas and other non-lethal force by the Albany Police Department. We owe it to our residents to ensure we have their trust that APD is not using tear gas or other non-lethal force indiscriminately. Under Mayor Sheehan’s leadership, the City of Albany has reached out to other mayors across the country and consulted with the United States Conference of Mayors to find best practices with respect to the deployment of non-lethal force.

While our research has failed to find a single City or State in the country has adopted the restrictions contemplated in the legislation currently being considered by the Council, we strongly support legislation that would restrict and control the use of tear gas and other non-lethal force including:

  • Restricting use to when a riot is declared, as defined by New York State law
  • Requiring a Police Chief or Deputy Chief to order its use
  • Requiring two notifications to the public in the immediate vicinity tear gas is about to be used
  • Requiring an EMT to be on-site prior to its deployment
  • Prohibiting its use in residential neighborhoods unless absolutely necessary to protect lives

In the last 32 years, tear gas has been used outdoors by the Albany Police Department only twice – on May 30, 2020, and June 1, 2020 – after members of the Albany Police Department were assaulted with bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks, police vehicles were damaged, a police horse was burned, and police equipment was stolen. At least one member of APD is still recovering from their injuries. A complete ban on tear gas will create a situation where should City Hall be attacked by armed insurrectionists, similar to what we saw at the US Capitol on January 6, the Albany Police Department will face the choice of doing nothing or using lethal force. 

We understand there are some people who participated in the policing collaborative who expressed a desire for the City to find alternatives to tear gas and other current non-lethal methods of responding to violence. We have not been provided a viable alternative, other than doing nothing or using lethal force. We believe it is important to pass legislation that ensures tear gas is never used in non-violent protests, but as elected officials we have an obligation to protect our residents and our workforce. We urge the Common Council to include commonsense amendments that will keep our community safe and address our shared desire to ensure tear gas is used only when absolutely necessary to protect against mass violence.”

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