Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative Releases Draft Report, Begins Community Input and Legislative Processes

February 22, 2021

By Tompkins County

Ithaca, N.Y. - 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 

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About Center for Policing Equity: As a research and action organization, Center for Policing Equity (CPE) produces analyses to identify and reduce the causes of racial disparities in public safety. Using data-driven approaches to social justice, we use science to create levers for social, cultural and policy change. Center for Policing Equity also holds a 501(c)3 status.