Around the nation, protesters have called for police departments to be defunded or reformed following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black and Brown people at the hands of law enforcement.

Through a joint effort between the Ithaca Voice, WRFI Community Radio News and the Ithaca College Park Scholars, with funding from Engaged Cornell, our reporters asked –– what’s the best solution here in Tompkins County to reimagine public safety policies and foster fairness and trust within each community regarding law enforcement?

We have put in months of work and conducted countless interviews with elected officials, community leaders and some of those impacted the most by broken criminal justice and law enforcement systems. The result? Two hours of in-depth reporting that aims to shed light on the issue and how it affects our neighbors. 

“I’m very proud of the work everyone put towards this project –– in a time where local newsrooms are shrinking, we were able to bring 15 local journalists together to create the kind of in-depth audio content that is both crucial and difficult to make,” Michayla Savitt, the outgoing WRFI news director said about the project. “This is the kind of reporting we need to do not just in this moment, but always.”

During the five-night premiere of Which Way Forward, listeners will hear from elected officials and those leading the charge to redefine public safety in Tompkins County such as Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, IPD Chief Dennis Nayor and more. 

According to Ithaca Voice Reporter Matt Butler, “We tried to hold powerful elected and appointed officials accountable for how they have reacted to the movement, both in the media and in little-watched city meetings, and what concrete plans they hope to enact in the next month, year, decade, etc.” 

He added, “What we’re providing to the community here is an opportunity to glance back at a whirlwind racial justice movement that occupied a significant part of the public conscience for much of 2020, and helping ensure that it is not forgotten simply because the calendar turned.”

You’ll also hear from people in our community whose work or stories underscore the need for changing public safety practices including Rose DeGroat, the woman at the center of the 2019 Commons case, and Richard Rivera an employee at Opportunities Alternatives and Resources (OAR) which works to help formerly incarcerated people reintegrate back into normal life. 

“We’ve tried to provide a snapshot of all the complicated aspects surrounding police reform and public safety,” Anna Lamb, senior reporter at the Ithaca Voice said. “This is in no way the end of the conversation, but rather just the beginning.” 

You can tune into WRFI next week at 6 p.m., Monday, February 1 through Friday, February 5, for Which Way Forward: Redefining Public Safety, at wrfi.org/whichwayforward or listen after the broadcast wherever you get your podcasts.