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Union: Plan to Abolish Ithaca Police Department Fails


The Ithaca Police Department is not going anywhere. A plan that was hatched in 2021 by former Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick to abolish the police department is no more. Ithaca Common Council has voted to keep its local police agency.

There has been a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the police department for the last two years but a plan backed by the city’s Public Safety Committee will allow the department to continue to be named the Ithaca Police Department and continue to be a City department led by a Chief of Police with full authority over the department.

Former Mayor Myrick’s plan called for replacing the Ithaca Police Department with a “Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety” with the intent of reducing the involvement of armed officers in disputes. His plan was featured in a GQ magazine article and was called the “most ambitious effort yet to reform policing.”

The President of the Ithaca PBA, Thomas Condzella, said, “The nightmare is finally over, we’re working together, rebuilding, and hiring. The current City Administration has made it clear to the PBA, they’re committed to working with us to obtain a successor labor agreement, they’ve recognized our rights as workers and for the first time ever are working with our union, not against us or around us. They’re committed to supporting us and helping us recruit new officers by making IPD a stable and attractive place to work again. We’re finally moving forward together and IPD is here to say.” Much of City Hall’s recent support was detailed in an internal memo dated April 7, 2023, that was sent to the IPD from Mayor Laura Lewis.

Condzella attributes the changing tides in Ithaca to the hard work and dedication of the Ithaca Police Officers who have weathered the storm, remaining to protect and serve their community. He also said that the former Mayor’s abrupt departure from local government and the City Attorney being excluded from participation in any labor-related discussions has changed the PBA’s relationship with City Hall immensely. Lastly, Condzella cited the findings of the Tompkins County Ethics Advisory Board investigation into the former Mayor’s conduct during police reforms as a significant reason that the public lost confidence in his plan to get rid of the IPD.

Earlier this week, Mayor Laura Lewis appointed Ted Schwartz as acting police chief.

“Lieutenant Schwartz has a proven track record, he came up through the ranks and has been tested through some very challenging times and situations, he can help us stabilize the Department,” Condzella added. “He has the full support of the PBA and the officers, we’re looking forward to working with him.”

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