ITHACA, NY (WETM) – The city that had the grand plan of doing away with their police department, has decided to keep it.
In a memo just received by us, from Mayor Laura Lewis to Ithaca Police Department staff dated April 7th, Mayor Lewis states that at the April 5th, Common Council meeting, the council adopted a report from the Special Committee on Public Safety, which was the final step in determining what actions the City would take to implement recommendations.
Mayor Lewis listed three actions from the report in her memo to the department, of which the third action is:
Action 3: Maintain and support progressive change in the Ithaca Police Department – the first
passage of this section reads:
“The Ithaca Police Department will continue to be named the Ithaca Police Department and
will continue to be a City department led by a Chief of Police with full authority over the
department. Ithaca Police Officers will continue to be called police officers and will not lose
their jobs or their rank.”
She also addresses recruitment by means of hiring an outside agency to do a robust recruitment strategy. She states that the City had made offers to 8 candidates since December of 2022, which resulted in two currently continuing in the academy. She states that the funding for the other 6 positions remains available and that 7 more are slated for funding in December of 2023, however, she states that Common Council would authorize the funding to be released sooner if successful candidates were presented. Which has not been verified by Council members publicly.
Mayor Lewis also addresses a topic that she has refused or decided not to respond to requests about and has even delayed FOIL requests about. The topic of the search for a police chief for the Ithaca Police Department. In her memo, she claims “The Police Chief Exam was not canceled, it was postponed to allow for the consultant to recruit from a broader network and not be limited exclusively to an active civil service list. All candidates who had signed up for the exam were referred to the consultant so that they can be included in the process.”
Based on the definition of canceled from the dictionary. Which defines the word as follows:
verb. 1. decide or announce that ( a planned event) will not take place. 2. (of a factor or circumstance) neutralize or negate the force or effect of (another).
So unless the candidates that are going through the selection process with Public Sector Consulting, are going to take a civil service test, yes it was canceled, and the Mayor’s statement to the Police Department was not truthful.
There are other sections in the memo that the Mayor discusses and the entire memo can be read here.
Other interesting mentions in the memo sent by Mayor Lewis were about plans for a New Public Safety Facility, which will sit on a 2-acre site, and increase the size of the facility by about double. The total cost of the project is $20 Million.
Mayor Lewis also announced this week that Lt. Ted Schwartz would be appointed Acting Ithaca Police Chief, and believed the temporary appointment would last through the selection of the new permanent Chief of Police. This is as the most recent Acting Police Chief John Joly, has taken an indefinite leave of absence, as a lawsuit he has against the city for discrimination. You can read the notice of claim here.
The plans for the city include creating a new Deputy City Manager position, which would be charged with overseeing the implementation of a holistic crisis response approach. And to oversee IPD.
The Ithaca Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Condzella says, “The nightmare is finally over, we’re working together, rebuilding, and hiring.”You can read the IPBA full press release here.