ITHACA, N.Y.—The Ithaca Police Benevolent Association has released a statement regarding the punishment the City of Ithaca intends to pursue against Sgt. Kevin Slattery of the Ithaca Police Department, including 30 days of unpaid suspension and a demotion from his sergeant’s role, without the eligibility for a promotion for two years. These punishments will have to be negotiated with the IPBA, in accordance with their labor contract.

The IPBA, the union that represents Ithaca police officers, expressed strong support for Slattery, who they called an “excellent supervisor and leader in the City of Ithaca Police Department for almost 15 years,” and a “lifelong member of the Ithaca Community.” Slattery was charged with violating department standards in terms of conduct and setting a good example as a superior for being caught on his own body camera bragging about abusing a suspect during a 2014 arrest and joking about planting evidence. The body camera video is from Oct. 30, 2020, and was self-reported days later by Slattery to department leadership.

“The harsh sanctions that the City Administration seeks to impose upon Sergeant Slattery reflects that the administration has placed politics over good government,” the union’s statement said. “As the city has acknowledged, Sergeant Slattery made bad jokes while wearing a body camera and reported himself for having done so. If not for Sergeant Slattery reporting his error to his superiors, no one would have known of his comments. Sergeant Slattery chose transparency and honesty over self-interest and the administration has sent a clear message to all other city employees that honesty and transparency are not valued in city government.”

The union’s statement reiterates one point of contention that still seems unclear: whether the incident of abuse actually occurred. The IPBA’s statement restates the city’s position, that Slattery’s statements were jokes and though he was bragging about his treatment of Jovan Monk, a Black man he was arresting in 2014, it wasn’t an accurate reflection of the arrest. The city and police department said in a statement Friday, Jan. 29 that an internal investigation had found no evidence of the beating and dragging described by Slattery—but Monk has maintained in interviews with police in the aftermath of the comments becoming public, according to his attorney, that Slattery did indeed beat and drag him during that arrest.

It’s another episode in long-running tension between the IPBA and city officials, much of which has centered around the city’s consideration of police defunding in the wake of widespread protests over the last several months, including locally. Simmering in the background of all of that is the oft-cited fact that the police have been working without a new union contract since the early 2010s.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com