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Police, firefighters will be present at Albany high schools for first day
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Police, firefighters will be present at Albany high schools for first day

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The Albany Police Department and the Albany Fire Department will be present at Albany high schools for the first day of classes to help with traffic calming.

Officers will be present to remind people to slow down in 20 mph speed zones when children are coming to and from school.

“We very much value our partnership with the Albany Police and Fire Department,” Greater Albany Public Schools Interim Superintendent Rob Saxton said, in a news release.

“We appreciate their efforts to ensure our drivers are responsible and our students are safe on the first days of school,” he added.

Police officers and firefighters will not actively approach students, but if students want to engage with them, they can do so. However, the prime reason the officers are there is to help with traffic, according to the news release.

Following students’ return to in person learning in April 2021, GAPS chose to “push pause” on the tradition of police greeting students on their first day of school because some students and families felt uncomfortable by their presence.

Then-superintendent Melissa Goff released a statement explaining that police presence on campuses did not reflect the "trauma-informed" approach she was striving for in schools.

Goff’s statement was met with strong backlash on social media, and APD Chief Marcia Harnden issued a statement of her own in an attempt to ease the tension. She asked that people stop spreading “dangerous and hurtful messages” online and apologized to students and families of color if they were upset by the police presence.

“To our students and families of color who may have been upset or had concerns about our presence on the first day of school, we sincerely regret that you did,” Harnden said. “Our intent was to welcome you back and give you a reason to feel safe and welcome. I'm sorry if the experience was negative.”

On April 9, dozens gathered outside of the GAPS school district offices in support of police. The protest included calls for resignation or removal of Goff.

Goff was fired by the Greater Albany Public Schools board with a 3-1 vote on July 14. Three new members joined the government body that month.

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