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ITHACA, NY -- The Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative of the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County, N.Y., published a draft report in response to New York State Executive Order 203?New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.?The Collaborative is seeking community input on the report and the draft recommendations, Ithaca and Tompkins County residents are encouraged to submit questions and share their feedback and input. The draft will be received by both the City of Ithaca Common Council and Tompkins County Legislature for adoption by the April 1, 2021, deadline outlined in the Executive Order.

The draft report and supplemental materials can be found at this link:?http://bit.ly/RPS-report-folder

The report was drafted in consultation with the?Center for Policing Equity. The draft report is based on research and deliverables produced by working groups including law enforcement and public safety officers, community members, and City and County staff. A complete breakdown of working groups, deliverables, and a process timeline can be found in the draft report.

Nineteen Reimagining Public Safety draft recommendations are being made by the Collaborative for the consideration of the City Council and County Legislature. Some draft recommendations are particular to an individual municipality, while others address both municipalities.

Recommendations include significant changes in law enforcement departments, evaluation of alternative response models, changes in training curriculum, a community healing plan, a law enforcement recruitment strategy, and more civilian engagement and review of law enforcement activities. Each draft recommendation is outlined in the report.

The City of Ithaca is recommending replacing the Ithaca Police Department with a Community Solutions and Public Safety Department that includes both armed and unarmed officers.

Tompkins County is recommending evaluation and implementation of an alternative response model that addresses crisis intervention and delivers wraparound health and human services, as well as a pilot program for non-emergency calls.

Both the City and the County are co-recommending further data standardization and transparency mechanisms, as well as citizen review, and advocating for revision of the New York State civil service systems to promote more equitable hiring practices.

The City and County are also co-recommending a repurposing of the SWAT mobile command vehicle and an external review of SWAT callouts to determine appropriate service.

City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick stated, “The results from this process are clear — we need a new form of public safety delivery. It is possible to have more equitable outcomes and to look at things in a new way. I’m confident that we’re putting forth recommendations that will greatly enhance the community’s health and safety.” Myrick continued, “A new Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety, built from the ground up, will make this city a safer place to live for every Ithacan. We’re designing this department with evidence and will staff it with well-trained personnel — some armed and some unarmed. This will allow us to implement the most forward-thinking solutions to preventing, interrupting, and solving crime.”

Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino remarked, “I’m proud of the work that our teams did to pull this together; it was a collaborative effort through and through. We engaged hundreds of community members and heard feedback from a wide array of perspectives. This report reflects that.” Molino continued, “The changes we set out to make are bold and represent a real opportunity for sustainable change. This process pushed us all, and while it was collaborative, not everyone on our teams necessarily agree with all the recommendations. We expect tough conversations over the next month and moving forward. This process has highlighted the challenges of bringing about true change due to conflicting visions around roles in public safety. The real work is just beginning and it will not be easy.”

?Dr. Tracie Keesee, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives at the Center for Policing Equity, stated, “The City of Ithaca and Tompkins County join communities nationwide looking to reimagine public safety in a way that is equitable for all their residents, especially the most vulnerable. I applaud them for working together during this process to put forth recommendations that we hope will begin to restore and strengthen their citizens’ faith in the public safety system.”

The Collaborative is seeking community input in the form of reactions, feedback, and questions. Community members are encouraged to share their input through an?online form, mail (c/o RPS Collaborative, 125 E. Court St, Ithaca N.Y. 14850, local drop boxes (City Hall, 108 E. Green St, Ithaca, or County Offices, 125 E. Court St, Ithaca), or via voicemail (607-274-5465).

A public forum outlining the draft recommendations and answering questions from the community will be held Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:30pm on the?Tompkins County YouTube channel. Members of the public who would like to ask a question live can register for the Zoom webinar?here.

More information on the Reimagining Public Safety Process can be found online:?https://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/ctyadmin/reimaginepublicsafety

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated with more information.

(6) comments

Richard Ballantyne

While I do support reforms to certain aspects of criminal justice, I do not think that defunding the IPD or making other drastic changes will lead to reduction in crime. I actually suspect the opposite -- that this “new form of public safety delivery” with the goal of achieving “more equitable outcomes” may end up accomplishing the opposite of what they intend, except it might actually achieve more equitable _worse_ outcomes. As a lifelong resident of Ithaca, I value the safety of my person and my family, and I appreciate the service that both the Ithaca City Police officers and Tompkins County Sheriff deputies provide. Every time I even start to imagine the dangers that each one of them must face on a regular basis, my appreciation for them grows.

I suspect that the “Reimagining Public Safety Process” and the "Department of Community Solutions" will be less effective at reducing crime, and will ultimately embolden criminals. I do not want higher rates of violent crime in what has historically and objectively remained a very safe community. I encourage readers to research what has happened in other communities that have defunded their Police Departments, rather than defending them, and judiciously altering select standard operating police procedures to reduce the unintended, unnecessary deaths and injuries to both police and all citizens. In general, I do not think large organizations should be judged merely by the actions of just one or several of its members, and this includes Police Departments and their officers. Police officers are human and they have to make quick life or death decisions based on limited information. Sometimes this is really, really, hard especially if you’re in a new situation that you have not been trained for. Will the people working for the “Department of Community Solutions” have any experience in adrenaline rush situations involving weapon wielding violent criminals? If not, then some really bad things might happen, and Mayor Svante Myrick will have a lot of explaining to do.

Minneapolis, the location of the George Floyd incident, has experienced a sustained spike in violent crimes since they defunded their police. Recently, the politicians there have tacitly admitted their folly by desperately trying to recruit a slew of new police officers to the tune of over $6 million. In recent months, around 200 officers (comprising 20% of their police force) there were either furloughed or resigned. Probably their main reason for voluntarily leaving was because they felt demoralized -- too underappreciated and too disrespected by certain vocal activists, many of whom don’t even reside in the very communities that rely the most on police presence. How sad is that? Do we really want crime in Ithaca to increase like it did in other cities that defunded their police? If not, then why are public officials essentially creating so many incentives for criminals to move into Ithaca and then to commit crimes here?

Our IPD chief, Dennis Nayor, just resigned despite being relatively young. I would not be surprised if part of his decision was based on the reasons I just mentioned. I think it is shameful, dangerous, and na?ve to be so unappreciative of the very people -- our men and women in blue -- who effectively form the foundation of safe functioning societies in which the rule of law can prevail. If you don’t agree with certain laws or policies, then elect people who will repeal/alter them, or vote with your feet if you can.

George Little

Gang infestation is like alcoholism, when you think you might have a problem it's already too late. I'm from Ithaca and my great grandfather moved here in the 1800's if people can't see an uptick in violent crime and narcotics traffic they don't have their eyes open. Ithaca doesn't have the spine to handle gang activity, hopefully it will grow one.

Franklins Ghost

Ithacans are being hoodwinked by its anti-police Mayor Myrick. The city and IPD have been at loggerheads for years now over contract disputes. By Myrick dissolving the IPD and replacing it with this other entity, and forcing officers to reapply to work for the new entity, the IPD contract stuff that Myrick doesn't like becomes a non-issue for him. The City will no doubt impose a much less generous contract on the employees of its new "safety" organization. Since the new employees wont have police status they will lose the rights that IPD officers have to have neutral third parties arbitrate contract disputes. But hey, you liberals wanted this transplant from Cornell with no life experience who was so incapable of doing any real work that they had to hire a city manager. Guess that gave Myrick more time to cruise college parties picking up girls.

Richard Ballantyne

(Benjamin) "Franklins Ghost" Nice alias! Appreciate your comments.

If Myrick really does disband the IPD, I would not be surprised if at some future point he has blood on his hands. This could easily happen after someone dials 911 and they get a social worker at their door instead of a police officer. Seemingly harmless situations can sometimes escalate into very dangerous ones involving hidden weapons. This could leave social workers vulnerable and defenseless, without proper training, and without protective gear (including muscles, confidence, a bullet proof vest, and a Glock). Then someone could get hurt or killed, and then our taxpayer dollars will end up going to lawyers and court settlements, rather than funding an effective police force. Myrick could then go down in flames and be humiliated on a national scale. I just can't believe how reckless and risky it seems to me to disband the IPD and replace it with Myrick's proposed departments!

If you are an IPD officer, and Myrick really does disband the IPD, consider not applying to work for the new organization. Maybe go work for Sheriff Osborne instead. You could also move to another city where your services will be more appreciated by those in power. That would be bad for Ithacans, but it would send a powerful message to Myrick.

Bob Hyde

I will never buy into the idea that eliminating a police department will make a community safer. I for one like the thought off having someone I can call that is trained in law enforcement . Does Ithaca want to see crime run rampant?

Scott Noren

For all here..please read about Eugene OR Cahoots program and how we should adapt their program of community based policing with NO budget cuts to police here...https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/05/us/cahoots-replace-police-mental-health-trnd/index.html No ego like what we see here..just solutions and other places are adapting it to their particular community. This plan needs to be halted as is and they need to adopt a Cahoots version but no defunding..actually expansion of police and mental health positions...

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