ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca Police officer was honored Monday afternoon for the work she’s done putting into effect the city’s requirements regarding body cameras worn by officers.

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Sgt. Melissa Harmon, who has been with IPD for 20 years, was presented with the Kiwanis Club Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award during a luncheon at Kendal at Ithaca.

“It’s a transition for everybody involved,” she said about the body cameras.

While Common Council wrote and approved the body cameras policy, she said they did so with input from her and a group of officers. Harmon ensured that the policy was properly and effectively implemented at the department.

“It’s progressive policy work and I’ve found it very interesting,” she said.

Harmon was an IPD dispatcher for three years before being hired as a police officer in 1996. Since then, she has worked on road patrol, with the investigative division and is currently the administrative sergeant for the department.

(Left to right) Deputy Chief Pete Tyler, Police Chief John Barber, Sgt. Melissa Harmon, and Kiwanis Club President Mimi Melegrito (Photo courtesy of the Ithaca Police Department)

Police Chief John Barber said, “Melissa wears many hats in her role and has been instrumental in the accreditation process and, recently, with IPD’s transition to the body worn cameras program — both daunting tasks.”

Deputy Chief Pete Tyler said, “She will take on any job. She will do it without complaining and, like the chief said, she will do it the right way every single time.”

She was praised for her attention to detail while taking on many tasks within the department.

Harmon was also recognized for being an influential woman in the department — notable because March is Woman’s History Month. She said she’s seen a lot of changes in the department over the past 20 years.

“Women are more widely accepted,” she said.

She said she didn’t feel excluded from the force when she joined, but many people — including women — wondered whether females would be up for the tasks involved with policing.

“I think we’ve proven that we can,” she said.

Her parents Mary Ann and Mike Harmon — a retired firefighter from Auburn —  attended the ceremony along with representatives from other police departments in the Tompkins County area.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.