ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca Police Chief John Barber is hanging up his holster for good this March after nearly 30 years in law enforcement and three years as police chief.

Barber said, “Almost three decades of public service — It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve reached a plateau in my career and I’m comfortable walking away from a police department that is…an excellent agency. It’s serving this community very well and I’m proud of it. Why not leave on a high note?”

Barber began his career as a New York State Corrections Officer in 1989 working at three state prisons over the course of about five years. He was hired at IPD in 1994 by former Chief Harlin McEwen, and went on to be appointed the SWAT commander in 2000, acting deputy chief in 2006, deputy chief in 2007 and acting police chief in 2012. He was officially appointed chief of police in 2013.

Police Chief John Barber grills hot dogs with one of the children at the first Ithaca Police Department barbecue in 2015. Photo by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice

Some of the highlights of Barber’s career, he said, are community outreach achievements and improvements made internally among officers to better serve the public.

For instance, under Barber’s watch, the department launched it’s first ever Open House at IPD headquarters, kicked off a “Coffee with the Mayor and Chief” public discussion series, and launched the annual police community barbecue at the Southside Community Center.

Internally, Barber said he’s been a part of the effort to increase the amount of training IPD officers go through every year. Some of the accomplishments that have happened since he became chief have been the renewed IPD K9 team in 2014, the commitment to launch an Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion team, and the certification of the IPD SWAT team, making it only one of seven certified teams in the state.

Barber’s last day on the job is March 9, when Deputy Chief Pete Tyler will take the reigns as acting chief, and will likely officially vie for permanent position with Barber’s endorsement.

The two were partners as police officers working the streets of Ithaca and have had a close personal and professional relationship for years.

“He has the best interest of this community and the police department in mind, as do I. So I think it will be a smooth transition,” Barber said.

Later today, The Ithaca Voice will be running a longer story in which Chief Barber reflects on nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and addresses major hot button issues in the community, such as The Ithaca Plan, the SWAT truck and what it means to be a police officer in a changing national climate of policing. 

Jolene Almendarez

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