Ithaca, N.Y. — A new compromise was proposed at a City Hall meeting Wednesday night that would require Ithaca police officers to live within county — rather than city — limits.

Mayor Svante Myrick had originally called for making all new city cops live in Ithaca after a police incident on Aug. 10 drew community protests.

At Myrick’s request, Common Council member Stephen Smith began discussions with police.

Smith and Police Chief John Barber both expressed support for a plan that would have Ithaca cops live within Tompkins County limits for five years. (Smith said that this was not his ideal solution but thought it was an improvement of the status quo.)

Discussion revolved around at least one major roadblock to the initial idea: That it would hamper recruitment of city police.

Chief Barber noted that of 127 recent applicants to join the city’s police force, only 8 live within the city.

“I, of course, am a proponent of the city residency requirement,” Myrick said, before adding that he recognized that his preference was not likely to pass council.

“Some compromise will have to be reached. This compromise seems (like) a good one.”

Myrick called for a “small, focused working group” to take up the issue and several related ones.

Some objections

Still, some Common Council members said that they thought the county requirement would not go far enough.

“I’m a little bit worried if we make this a county residence requirement it’s not going” to achieve the goal of bringing the community and police closer together, said Common Council member Seph Murtagh.

Common Council member JR Clairborne also noted that the majority of officers already live within the county.

“You said the majority of officers live in the county … it doesn’t really move us toward any improvement,” Clairborne said of the proposed compromise.

Before Council member Smith presented the idea, Ithaca resident Phoebe Brown spoke about the importance of bringing Ithaca community members and police closer together.

This meeting is ongoing. We’ll be providing updates from City Hall.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.