ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — A group tasked with reimagining public safety in Ithaca and Tompkins County has submitted a draft set of recommendations including a proposal to abolish the Ithaca Police Department.
The 98-page draft document spells out 19 specific recommendations to be undertaken by both the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County as part of a “significant vision for change” on policing. The first of those recommendations is to abolish the Ithaca Police Department and replace it with a civilian-led two-pronged agency.
“We want to design this new department from the ground up, cater it to our needs here in Ithaca, but I think a similar model could be adopted by just about any community in the country,” Myrick said.
Under the draft proposal, the city would create an agency with two units to replace IPD. The first would be armed and uniformed first responders called Community Safety Officers. The second would be unarmed first responders called Community Solutions Officers. The report does not assign specifics to the functions or responsibilities for each unit, but Myrick said he believes they will be structured to more precisely address issues that arise.
“The situation has changed dramatically over time and we’ve seen a slow, but steady change in what we ask our police officers to do, and any police officer will tell you this,” Myrick said. “The job is just very different than it was 50 years ago or 30 years ago. A ton of what we ask our officers to do may not be considered traditional police work.”
According to the recommendations, the newly created agency would also be responsible for new standards on data collection, hiring practices and public outreach among others.
The draft report will be the subject of a public forum on the topic Thursday. Once finalized by the committee, the report will go before the Ithaca Common Council and Tompkins County Legislature for full adoption.
The collaborative was formed in response to an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last summer requiring each municipality with a law enforcement agency to review policing. The initiative was launched.