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Posted on: March 2, 2022

City of Ithaca Reimagining Public Safety Working Group Publishes Report

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City of Ithaca Reimagining Public Safety Working Group Publishes Report, Presentation to Common Council this Evening

The City of Ithaca’s Reimagining Public Safety Working Group has published its report detailing suggestions to implement a new public safety agency and will detail the report and suggestions at 6:00pm in a presentation to Common Council. The report was called for in a unanimous resolution passed in March of 2021.  

The report in its entirety can be viewed on the City of Ithaca’s document center: https://www.cityofithaca.org/DocumentCenter/View/13725/WG_IthacaReport_Final

The City Council meeting can be viewed on the City’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7RtJN1P_RFaFW2IVCnTrDg

The report suggests that the new agency be named the Department of Community Safety and house a Division of Police and a Division of Community Solutions. The report details suggestions for the structure and leadership of the Department of Community Safety, key responsibilities for each division, call delineation between armed and unarmed responses, staffing, beat design, and shift assignments, and training, equipment, and research needs for the new agency. The report also includes suggested budget items to support the department. 

In addition to the full report, suggestions made in the report can be found on the www.publicsafetyreimagined.org website where members of the community are invited to share feedback and comments for review by the City Council members as they consider adoption of the report and implementation of suggestions. Several printed copies will also be made available around the community, and feedback will also be open through the weekly ad placed in the free Tompkins Weekly Newspaper. 

Project management for the Working Group process was supported by the Center for Policing Equity. The working group thanks the Center for Policing Equity for their collaboration, project management assistance, and for bringing in experts who are skilled at helping communities redesign public safety systems that work for everyone -- from the most disproportionately impacted community members to those who serve in law enforcement. 

Working Group Co-Lead Eric Rosario stated, “I believe that the suggestions laid out in this report will greatly increase the safety of our community while better supporting and utilizing the law enforcement resources and officers that we rely on. I believe with these suggestions we can deliver alternative solutions to problems rather than relying on armed officers to address every issue. We’ve delineated calls between armed and unarmed responses, taken great care to come up with a structure for this new department, and given thoughtful consideration to how to staff, design beats for, and support the new department’s divisions. I’m honored to have been a leader in this process. Our working group worked closely together to come up with suggestions that can be truly transformative for community safety in the City of Ithaca.” 

Working Group Co-Lead Karen Yearwood stated, “On behalf of the entire working group, we’re proud of these suggestions and the impact that they will have on the most vulnerable members of our community. When you read this report, you can see the detailed breakdown of what our working group collectively suggests to better deliver community safety services in the City.” Yearwood continued, “We took the time to speak with and consider the experiences of the most vulnerable Ithacans and those who have disproportionate contact with the criminal justice system, specifically including people experiencing homelessness - and what we heard loud and clear is that we can do better, both in responding when someone is in need and using our resources more effectively.” 

City of Ithaca Director of Human Resources and member of the Reimagining Public Safety Project Management Team Schelley Michell-Nunn stated, “What we’ve learned is that when we improve public safety for People of Color, we improve public safety for everyone. This process looked through a new lens, studying the problems facing our community and the people in it. We see clearly how the city can respond differently to increase access to meaningful solutions and decrease interactions with the criminal justice system and disproportionate negative outcomes for Black and Brown people in Ithaca.” Michell-Nunn continued, “In this report’s suggestions I see better outcomes for People of Color, I see increasing trust in local government, and I see our most vulnerable neighbors feeling more safe and less afraid. We’re on a path of using our people and resources in the City of Ithaca to meet the needs of our community better and more equitably. This represents long-term, structural change that is needed to truly have community safety for all.” 

"We are proud to support the City of Ithaca’s Reimagining Public Safety Working Group to help them find new ways of building a robust, equitable public safety system,” Dr. Hans Menos, Vice President, Triage Response Team for the Center for Policing Equity, said. "The creation of the Department of Community Safety will help give the Ithaca community the resources it needs to keep Black and Brown people safe, healthy, and thriving.” 

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