Cover-ups in government come in many varieties; indeed, this newspaper has exposed the obvious (destroying city e-mails, which are public records) to the covert (illegal City Commission meetings) at city hall, among other graft.
Thus, when Albany city employees participate in schemes to hide the truth from the citizens they serve, they certainly will have gotten it honestly.
Which brings us to a standard modus operandi of city hall these days that reared its head again this week: the sublime cover-up – from the very top of the food chain.
In the wake of the Albany’s steady progression from Good Life City to Gangland, some Albany city commissioners said this week that their solution to preventing young thugs and other teenagers from roaming the street into and after the witching hour is a revised curfew.
Now, if that doesn’t beat all.
The same thing happened in 2008 under then-police chief James Younger. Rather than requiring officers to do their jobs, Younger claimed that the city’s curfew ordinance needed revisiting. It was a cop-out, pardon the pun, that City Manager Alfred Lott and the City Commission bought hook, line and sinker. But at least Younger was consistent: Police in his command not only refused to enforce the curfew, with Younger’s blessing, they performed a spectator role as motorists ran red lights and citizens spread litter throughout the city. To return the favor, Lott and commissioners turned their head as Younger violated state regulations by forcing an employee to issue him a firearm despite Younger not being a certified police officer.
WALB-TV reported in 2008: “Albany city commissioners want to help police fight gangs and they think a stricter curfew might be the way to do it.” But in the next sentence, the reporter did a curious about-face, saying: “Commissioners will talk to police Tuesday about better enforcement of the existing curfew to help keep kids off streets at night, and at school time, and out of trouble.”
Lo and behold, amid the hot air, no new law was needed after all because Albany had a longstanding law prohibiting children from being in public between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Everyone with a brain knew that then and they know it now. In fact, most of Albany’s police force already gets and abides by this concept. It is those officers who don’t enforce the law – and who don’t get in trouble for looking the other way, for whatever reason – who are insulting and even endangering their peers, and otherwise contributing to our community’s perilous state.
Indeed, perpetuating a falsehood that a 12-year-old patronized the State Theatre on the same recent Saturday evening that a 19-year-old fired a gun in the air outside the business long after it had closed, one commissioner has even suggested that the city should victimize businesses like movie theatres and concert halls that host events for young people.
That’s nonsense. Curfew violators should be given a ride in a police car – either to jail or to their home.
And correspondingly, police officers who don’t earn their publicly funded paycheck by enforcing the law — every single one of them — should be required to find another line of work.