Posted at: 04/09/2013 5:50 PM
Updated at: 04/09/2013 5:55 PM
By: Abigail Bleck
ALBANY--More than 7000 people on www.change.org agree--violent police training in public housing should be banned.
"It's a no brainer. You don't expose children, elderly or any vulnerable people to simulated warfare," worries Lauren Manning, an Ida Yarbrough resident of two years.
On March 21st, Lauren Manning thought the Albany Police Department was actually raiding the complex. Turns out it was just a law enforcement exercise--an exercise residents claim they weren't notified of and couldn't escape. Manning says families were forced to stay inside their homes and witness a staged hostage situation.
"My four year old doesn't understand it's fake--she saw bullets on the ground and heard real bombs, it wasn't fake for us."
The Albany Police Department apologized and called the training mission "insensititve." The Albany Housing Authoriy pledged that it wouldn't happen on Ida Yarbrough property ever again. But, AHA would not go as far to say it wouldn't happen on any public housing property in the city.
"The local response from police,the mayor and the housing authority was friendly--but inept. It didn't go far enough."
So Manning is taking it farther. To Washington--with a petition and hopes that public housing residents in Albany and elsewhere don't have to experience what her family did.
"Police departments and fire departments have to train. If they don't train then they can't save our lives," explains Albany Common Council Member Barbara Smith who called protecting public safety a "difficult balance."
A spokesman for HUD called this a local issue and says decisions need to be made with the Albany Police Department and the Albany Housing Authority.