ITHACA, N.Y. –– As part of the joint effort by Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca to initiate police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May, Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino will host a public forum engaging the community on what changes they want to see happen to local law enforcement.

The call for reform is not unique to just Ithaca –– a state mandate announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the wake of Floyd’s death requires all municipalities with police departments to submit a policing reform plan to New York State by April 1.

The forum is set to take place virtually on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. via Tompkins County’s YouTube channel.

One of the main topics of discussion during Thursday’s forum will be the results of a public survey that asks both general questions about the public’s perception of local law enforcement, but also about the current structure of public safety arms the county oversees including the Sheriff’s office and District Attorney.

“The first question we are asking in this survey is what does police reform mean to you? We recognize that there’s a wide spectrum of experiences with policing and public safety, and we want to honor people’s perspectives while seeking their honest input,” County Administrator Molino said.

Participants in the survey are being asked to review a prepared overview of Tompkins County governmental departments that report to the Public Safety Committee of the County Legislature. The survey can then be found here.

“We’re encouraging community members to review information on our public safety departments and to start thinking about how the broader systems of law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice intersect –– we want to make sure people are informed and have what they need to provide detailed input. We’re encouraging community members to fill out the survey so that in the forum I can respond to some of the trends and sentiments shared with us,” Molino said.

Members of the public can also provide input through the YouTube chat function during the forum. Additional engagement opportunities, including ways for individuals to engage without internet access, will be shared with the community in the coming weeks.

Following the review of the survey results, the county hopes to then outline the next steps in the police reform process, as Thursday’s forum kicks off a series of public engagement opportunities that will be shared as Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca work with the Center for Policing Equity to review data and create reform plans.

All county residents are encouraged to participate in Thursday’s event in order to accurately reflect the climate in Tompkins.

“The pandemic is challenging us to find new ways to engage with the community, in normal times we’d have a lot more in-person community conversations, but we have different constraints during this process,” Molino said. “I want to thank the community for being patient as we find ways to connect both online and offline, and to assure folks that there will be many ways to participate and provide input throughout the process.”

Additional upcoming forums and community engagement sessions will be available and archived on YouTube here.

The City of Ithaca’s reinventing public safety web page can also be found online here and Tompkins County’s reinventing public safety web page can be found here.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com