This is a letter to the editor written by Ithaca resident Eric Bopp, who helped develop the Officer Next Door program with residents of west village, IPD and Mayor of Ithaca Svante Myrick. It was not written by the Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editors for publication consideration, please send them to email@example.com.
Upon reading the recent Op-Ed “Reflections from the Center of a Manhunt,” I too feel compelled to write my own perspective as my family also found ourselves sheltering in our home with an armed detail right outside our door.
The activity of Nov. 9 started with a gunfight downtown. Two groups of men actively shot at each other in an obvious attempt to harm. They disregarded the lives of those they targeted as well as the innocent people around them. Rational Ithacans understand this.
As these criminals fled the scene and drove through Cayuga Heights, they were spotted and stopped by the police. Two of the men were captured while a third fled on foot. Weapons were found.
Local schools locked down over a thousand students and police initiated a manhunt. Men and women in bullet-proof vests could be seen walking through Cayuga Heights working their way from the Elementary School towards Boynton Middle School and Ithaca High School. State troopers and even a helicopter joined the search. Residents were told to stay indoors and check that their houses were secure.
To say that this was a traumatizing event is an understatement. However, the trauma my family experienced was one of knowing an armed criminal was on the loose and NOT that of the police presence. Did I think this criminal would harm anyone in the neighborhood? Honestly, no. I figured he only wanted to flee and this is exactly what I told my children. I said this mostly to calm their nerves and fears from a lengthy and scary REAL school lockdown.
Did I trust this criminal NOT to hurt anyone as he fled while presumably armed? Absolutely not. He had forfeited any and all public trust by that point and for this reason and this reason alone, the tactics the police employed were appropriate to safeguard all citizens, especially the many school children located exactly where the armed criminal fled. I am puzzled as to why Sheriff Osborne also labeled the man a “non-threat” upon the conclusion of the failed attempt to capture him. It is my belief that he also did so in an attempt to calm fears.
The police mandate was to safeguard the public from an armed criminal who had just recently been in a gunfight. Rational people understand this.
It’s trendy in Ithaca to hate the police. They’re oppressors, we’re told. They’re the foot soldiers of white supremacy, we’re told (even the many officers of color, ironically). They’re not needed, we’re told.
Well, I’m grateful for the good men and women I met right outside my own door. In a city that makes it damn near impossible for them to do their jobs, they did their job and put their lives on the line for everyone. This isn’t political. This isn’t racial. This is about safety for our children.
Rational people know this.