ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Completely reimagining the way public safety is handled in a city like Ithaca, is no small task, but the process has gotten off to a slower start than expected.
That’s because it took a little longer to form the City’s Reimagining Public Safety Working Group tasked with designing a new public safety agency to replace the Ithaca Police Department. This recommendation is just one of 19 unanimously passed by Common Council and the Tompkins County Legislature back in March, but it’s likely the biggest.
“As you can imagine that’s a really serious undertaking and there’s a lot to consider,” said Eric Rosario, co-lead of the working group.
The group is composed of 17 members from all corners of the city including three Ithaca police officers and representation from the LGBTQ+ community, black and brown communities, and elected officials.
The first task they’ve been working on is going through roughly 65 call types police are dispatched to, anything from a traffic stop to wellness check to an armed robbery to decide whether an armed officer or unarmed officer should respond.
“We’ve had discussions in different small groups of alright, do we need an armed officer too if it’s a traffic stop or something like that or do we need like an alternative,” Karen Yearwood, co-lead of the working group said.
This process has been a collaborative, data-driven one that has included support from the Center for Policing Equity and community input. The city recently launched a dedicated website to let residents submit their ideas.
“We think this needs to be done thoughtfully, thoroughly, comprehensively, with a lot of community input,” Rosario said.
Rosario added the goal is to have preliminary recommendations presented to the Common Council by the new year.
The working group will be hosting its first community update on Thursday, October 7 at 6 pm on Zoom. For more information on how to register, click here.