ITHACA, NY – The Mayor of Ithaca New York is proposing a plan to replace the city police department with a civilian-led agency. Mayor Svante Myrick plans to disband the police and create a “Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety.”
— People for Porter (@for_porter) March 6, 2021
The Mayor will propose that the city close the Ithaca Police Department and replace the 63 officers with armed “public safety officers” and unarmed “community solution workers.” All personnel would report to the civilian director of public safety under the plan.
All current officers would have to re-apply to the new department, according to a nearly 100-page report obtained by media sources.
Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 announced a new proposal to dismantle the current version of the Ithaca Police Department. But some officers said they had not been adequately warned before its release.https://t.co/9tOvIqhfZT
— The Cornell Daily Sun (@cornellsun) March 4, 2021
Myrick wrote in the introduction to the report that most patrol activity should be handled by unarmed persons:
“IPD currently spends one-third of its time responding to calls for service that essentially never lead to arrests. Those calls, as well as a majority of patrol activity, can and should be handled by unarmed Community Solution Workers well trained in de-escalation and service delivery.
This will allow our new Public Safety Workers to focus on preventing, interrupting, and solving serious crime.”
The NYS AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the dedicated members of the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association and call on the City Council to reject the Mayor’s proposal.
— NYS AFL-CIO // #UnionStrong (@NYSAFLCIO) March 3, 2021
The unrest, which began in 2014 with thee death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, and exploded with the death of George Floyd in 2020 was the catalyst for the Mayor’s decision to replace the police, according to Myrick during an interview with NPR:
“The death of George Floyd triggered uprisings that were, in some cases, centuries in the making. So, the governor issued an executive order that said every police agency should do a deep restructuring.
They should talk to the community, gather data, and figure out how best to move forward.
“We brought in the Center for Police Equity, which has been a wonderful partner as we analyze our data and do a landscape review of other communities and other tactics.
And it really wasn’t until the end, the last couple of weeks of this process, where we looked at all of our data and it became clear as day. The police officers themselves are saying, look, we’re too stretched.”
— stevepomper (@stevepomper) March 3, 2021
The Mayor said that the public wants a different kind of public safety, one without guns:
“We want to see people walking the beat again, you know? We want to see people engaging with the community. And there are a lot of problems we want a response for.
But the presence of guns, the presence of a militarized force triggers people who are carrying past traumas.
“The men and women of the Ithaca Police Department have performed their duties with admirable skill and professionalism, but for too long the answer to every human behavioral problem in our City has been to call the police.”
This college town may actually abolish police | Will Bunch
Can a city of 30,000 survive without police? The mayor of Ithaca, N.Y. wants to find out https://t.co/8seeLFtOAb
— Clayton Craddock (@ClaytonCraddock) March 3, 2021
Ithaca’s Police Benevolent Association blasted the Mayor’s plan and said the police were never consulted or meaningfully involved in developing the plan. At a press conference, Association leader Thomas Condzella said:
“Key stakeholders have been left out. Those stakeholders are the police. We are experienced professionals.
“Violent crime in the city of Ithaca is steadily rising. However, our ability to address it is decreasing by the day, almost as if by design, to further this proposal.
“(It is an) underhanded attempt to bust the union.”
Idiot Savante -Mayor to send in Social Workers? Police investigating after one person shot in Ithaca – WENY News https://t.co/jGllCQetF1
— John Solak (@BinghamtonDaily) March 3, 2021
Several police union representatives joined the press conference held Friday, as did the President of the State Union of Police Associations.
The plan was developed after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) mandated cities to develop police reform plans. Condzella said that the plan in Ithaca has taken reform too far:
“(The mandate is being) used to implement changes that are unnecessary, unprecedented and likely extremely dangerous.
“Are you willing to test this new public safety model on your employees and your constituents when actual lives hang in the balance?”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick is calling for the abolishment of the Ithaca Police Department. And he intends to replace police officers with an imaginary invention he calls the “Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety.” https://t.co/jGKKp3OS60
— Trigger”Civil War”Warning ︻芫═─ (@AshLikeSnow17) March 3, 2021
The plan must be approved by the city council, who plans to debate and vote on it by the end of March. The plan will face opposition from police unions.
He has battled with police unions in the past, and he is aware it is an uphill battle to get the plan approved. Despite the difficulties, Myrick expects to have the new Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety running by the summer of 2023 telling GQ:
I do think it will be a big battle. Fox News will lose their shit.”
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Seattle councilman votes to defund police – then blames cops for not taking care of homeless encampments
February 28, 2021
SEATTLE, WA- Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis is blaming the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for their lack of attention in handling the city’s exploding homeless problem, however he specifically voted to block SPD from handling those exact issues.
JUST IN — 3 men arrested yesterday on suspicion of running a drug ring out of tents in Seattle’s Pioneer Square were just released by a judge.
King County Prosecutors argued to keep them in jail, but tell KOMO the judge disagreed.
— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) February 25, 2021
After three recent raids in tent communities where the police confiscated many drugs and weapons, leading to more than a dozen people being arrested, Lewis tried to point his finger at SPD and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan when he was asked about long-term solutions to homelessness taking over Pioneer Square.
According to reports, long before the raids dismantled the criminal enterprise hiding under some of the tents, at least three business owners trying to stay afloat in the area said they have been begging the city to intervene for months, but nothing has been done.
Pioneer Square business owner Laura Zeck said:
“Homelessness can happen to anybody; the additional criminal element makes it completely out of hand.”
“I’m looking around for other spaces.”
Main Street Gyros owner Hamza Albadan said:
“I think we got to be out of business soon.”
Gallery Frames owner Daniel Carrillo added:
“I’m thinking about it right now, but I have a lease.”
Super Lawyers listee Braden Pence helped a Seattle woman get a $10,000 settlement in a case against the city over its removal of homeless encampments. The Seattle Times has more: https://t.co/FZyfeOOqlH
— Super Lawyers (@SuperLawyers) February 24, 2021
All three business owners said that the cycle of crime associated with some of the tent communities makes them want to move out of Pioneer Square.
“I guarantee you in a couple of weeks time there will be more tents.”
When the Q13 Fox News asked Lewis about what, if any, long-term solutions the city has in response to address the problem, he claimed that the failure was on the part of the SPD and Mayor Durkan.
He said in a statement:
“You will have to talk to the police department or the mayor on what the long-term strategy is going to be in that corridor.”
He also said that he would like to see the “Just Care” program renewed and expanded. It is a new program that was aimed to reach out to the homeless and provide them with wrap around services.
However, according to SPD spokesperson Sergeant Randy Huserik, Lewis is more responsible for the current state of Pioneer Square than he is letting on.
Huserik said in a statement:
“For him to turn around and put that back on the Seattle Police Department is a little puzzling. It’s a little puzzling based on the fact that he was one of the people who voted to abolish and defund the Navigation Team.”
As public outcry about homeless encampments reaches a new tenor, lawmakers in Washington and around the country are proposing stricter rules that would force people to choose between shelter or arrest. https://t.co/zCb7LSJC4m
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) February 22, 2021
Reportedly, the Navigation Team would pair police and social workers together to engage with the homeless population as a path to wrap-around services.
According to the city’s website, SPD personnel and outreach workers would connect the homeless with resources and housing opportunities.
Back in 2017, the city wrote:
“This team has advanced certification in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques that lend themselves to the daunting tasks of reaching those most in need. The purpose of the team’s approach is to bring more people inside and create faster resolutions to hazardous situations.”
Over the summer of 2020, the Seattle City Council opted to defund the Navigation Team unit in order to block police from working with homeless populations.
They claimed that they had planned to have other organizations handle those issues, but the Pioneer Square-area business owners said that has not been happening at all.
Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis announced that he has $1 million in commitments from the private market on a campaign to double the city’s stock of tiny house villages for homeless people in just one year.https://t.co/Baq3Cy7SwA
— James Doerfel Real Estate Guru (@jedoerfel) February 8, 2021
They said that they have not seen anyone working with the homeless in the encampments that are now blocking the sidewalks outside of their shops.
They want to know how tents are allowed to block sidewalks for such long periods of time and what department is supposed to be in charge of that issue.
“Other city agencies are now incumbent on dealing with those issues. That’s still falling on encampment and homeless community, the city council expressed that they don’t want Seattle police to get involved.”
Given Lewis’ knowledge of the situation, it is unclear why he proceeded to blame the SPD and mayor for the growing problem. On Friday, February 26th, the mayor’s office followed up with a statement claiming the situation is complex.
The statement added:
“There’s no single department that makes the call for removals of tents or obstructions, rather the decision is made collectively.
Interdepartmental department teams meet regularly to assess the need to remove vacant tents, obstructions, litter, and public dumping. Requests come in from a number of different sources, including through the Customer Service Bureau and the Find it Fix it app.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis