Ithaca, N.Y. — Mayor Svante Myrick announced seven major proposed reforms for the Ithaca Police Department as authorities released an internal review Monday of a controversial incident involving multiple unarmed teens.
That internal review found that police Sgt. John Norman was essentially justified in his decision to pull his weapon on the teens.
Myrick’s proposals come amid furor over the incident and calls for reform of the IPD.
The major reforms proposed by the mayor are:
1 — Placing cameras on officers
Citing studies showing that cameras reduce the use of police force, Myrick said the city “will pursue the necessary funding to purchase and operate a body-worn camera on every officer and dashboard cameras in every car.”
“Body cameras have a civilizing effect,” he said. “Recording each interaction will bring a greater level of accountability to our police-community interactions.”
Body cameras also have what Myrick called an “evidentiary benefit.”
“They can decrease the amount of time our officers spend filling out paperwork and increase the amount of time they spend on the street,” he said. “They also increase the odds that cases end in guilty pleas.”
2 — Requiring Ithaca police to live in the city?
Mayor Myrick pledged to bring to Common Council legislation requiring that all Ithaca police officers “establish their primary residence in the City within one year of their hiring.”
“Officers who live in the community that they serve will be uniquely invested in our community, better familiar with and to the citizens they have chosen to serve and protect, and best able to respond quickly in emergency situations,” Myrick said.
Alderperson Stephen Smith will sponsor legislation on this issue, according to a statement.
3 — A ‘Community Action Team’
Chief John Barber has suggested a ‘Community Action Team’ (CAT) to patrol outside officers’ typical rotations.
“These officers would not be assigned a beat or a fixed schedule and would be selected for their ability to implement a community policing model that emphasizes outreach,” a press release said.
“Their flexibility would allow them to be where they are needed most when they are needed most,” Myrick said.
“I will seek every avenue to fund the CAT and put the team on the street in 2015.”
The officers can also be deployed as they are most needed.
“If there is a rash of burglaries on the West End, they can supplement our patrols in that area,” a statement said. “If there are out of control parties on East and South Hill when students return in the fall, they can supplement our patrols in that area.”
4 — A social worker based on a Vermont model
Importing a model from Burlington, Vermont, Myrick is proposing hiring a social worker to go around downtown and work with the “addicted, unemployed, homeless, and mentally ill.”
“This outreach worker helps the disenfranchised access resources that can improve their quality of life,” Myrick said. “The outreach worker also reduces the recurrence of ‘frequent flyers’ to IPD, which will help the Department be more proactive in addressing other community concerns.”
5 — A district office on the west end
Myrick announced that Tim Ciaschi had donated a ground floor “District Office” to give IPD a “welcoming, physical location on the west end of the city.” It will open by Jan. 1, 2015.
This “will allow IPD to immerse themselves even more fully into the life of the City,” Myrick said. It will go in the Lehigh Valley House.
6 — Increasing staffing by 10 percent
Myrick said that he wants a 10 percent increase in staffing of the IPD. He’s half-way there, since three officers were sworn in last week, a statement said.
“Increased staffing will reduce stress on each officer,” he said. “It will also better allow for the kind of intensive community outreach that is needed in the City of Ithaca.”
7 — Commitment to immersion in community events
Myrick said police will strive to have more community outreach “on foot patrols, formal programming within schools (and) immersion in community events.”
“These steps build trust between the community and the Ithaca Police Department,” Myrick said. “That trust is an invaluable tool.”
This news is breaking. We will provide updates.