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Former Cornell Police Chief Tapped By Ithaca for Consultant Role


City of Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis has named former Cornell University Police Chief Kathy Zoner as a consultant to oversee the implementation of the City’s Unarmed Response Unit and design of the new role of Deputy City Manager for Public Safety.

According to Lewis, Zoner’s background as a successful law enforcement officer and advocate of public safety for all will help the city further advance the mission of a holistic public safety response approach and begin to implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Public Safety that were adopted by the Common Council in April of 2023.

“I am thrilled that Kathy will be working with the city in this capacity,” said Mayor Laura Lewis. “Her expertise coupled with her local network will allow for us to design a new model of public safety for our whole community. We look forward to taking the next step in implementing the plans outlined in Council’s report and providing better service for all who live, work in, and visit the City.”

Former Chief Zoner has been recognized with special legislative resolutions in both Tompkins County and Higher Education governing bodies for her consistent work in creating law enforcement agencies that are accessible to the communities they serve, while creating environments of safety and mutual respect. She is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a BS in Agriculture and of the FBI National Academy. She served as Chief of Cornell University Police from 2009 through 2019, after serving in various other law enforcement roles at the University since 1991. Upon her retirement from Cornell in 2019, she joined Margolis Healy and Associates full-time as a public safety consultant specializing in organizational development and assessment services.

“A well-trained unarmed response unit is an integral part of the delivery of balanced, fair, and impartial safety services. I look forward to working with those invested in the successful implementation of this project which will both complement and expand the public safety services already in place.”

Zoner will work with key stakeholders, including the Ithaca Police Department, the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association, the Community Justice Center, community leaders, and local non-profits to identify the work of the unarmed response team and implement strategies to build relationships between officers and community organizations.

Her work will include the collaborative development of job descriptions, policies and procedures, training resources, and any agreements necessary for the work to be done effectively to benefit our community.

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