ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM/WSYR) — It’s considered one of the most ambitious police reform plans, and has even gained national attention.

Wednesday night, the City of Ithaca’s Common Council unanimously approved its proposed police reform plan, “Reimagining Public Safety.

In line with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, every police department across the state has to submit plans by Thursday, April 1. If localities don’t, they risk the loss of future state funding.

For months, law enforcement and communities have been working to strike a balance when it comes to policing and public safety. However, in Ithaca, it hasn’t always been an easy task.

“Reimagining Public Safety” includes replacing its current police department with a “department of community solution and public safety.” That means incorporating an unarmed unit of community solutions officers that would respond only to certain non-violent calls and specialize in mental health services.

In an interview with our Syracuse station (WSYR-TV) on February 24, 2021, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick spoke about the benefits of this proposal.

Our community solutions officers, unarmed, can focus on community engagement and impact, walking the beat, patrolling the city, getting to know people, develop sources, and respond to the type of calls that never lead to arrests.

You to have to have law enforcement officers who are armed. It’s a reality of American life, but when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Our officers are fed up, our community is fed up, they’re saying we need more than a hammer. We need a screwdriver, a wrench and we need other tools in our tool kit.

MAYOR SVANTE MYRICK, CITY OF ITHACA

In a public statement ahead of Wednesday night’s Common Council vote on the report, the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association said the following in part…

“We thank those who have been willing to speak with us and have heard loud and clear that change is needed now,” – Thomas W. Condzella, President, Ithaca PBA