ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When the City of Ithaca set out to reimagine public safety two years ago, building a better relationship between neighbors and police was top of mind. 

“Oftentimes we hear you know that we’re not doing enough and we need to do more and we certainly have room for improvement, but it’s also important for people to understand the limitations of our resources,” Acting Police Chief John Joly said.

The department is hoping to do just that through a brand-new online community dashboard, updated once a week to show the public when, where and what types of calls officers are responding to. 

The dashboard allows the public to see what call types IPD are dispatched to from the 911 center and compare them to what the call type was when officers arrived. Acting Chief Joly said sometimes what officers are dispatched to can end up being a very different call type when they arrive on the scene. 

The dashboard also shows what the call volume looked like on a specific day and is searchable allowing you to narrow your search to a particular month, shift and beat area. 

“We wanted to be able to provide the citizens with a window into what happens and what their tax dollars are paying for.”

John Joly, Acting Ithaca Police Chief

The dashboard includes data from 2019 to date and even shows the location of each call. If officers responded to a business, that business is listed, if it’s a home the street name and block will be listed to protect citizens’ privacy. Another feature of the dashboard is average daily patrol officer responses. On average, four to five IPD officers respond to a scene, but Acting Chief Joly said it should be closer to six. 

Low staffing levels have plagued the department for quite some time, Acting Chief Joly said 13 officer positions are currently vacant. 

“We’re really trying to increase the transparency, the accountability, and also the professionalism of the department and we’re trying to meet any of the recommendations that we can even though we’re crunched for staffing and we’re really shorthanded,” he said.

Acting Chief Joly is hoping to add more data to the dashboard in the future such as the use of force numbers and demographics. For now, he’s hoping the dashboard can serve as a model for other police departments looking to increase transparency.