ITHACA MAYOR SURRENDERS AMERICA’S HERITAGE WHILE LOSING THE FIRST BATTLE OF THIS NEW WAR
In the last two years there have been numerous protests and calls for defunding police departments across the United States of America and even globally. The main push behind these calls has been politicians and media outlets, along with some far-left groups such as Antifa and BLM.
The stated claim and rallying cry of all of these groups has been the same: large numbers of minorities are being gunned down by violent, over-zealous police officers.
None of these groups actually pay attention to the facts or statistics that show this is not the case. Instead, they play on “perceived feelings” from selected individuals in these communities. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has gone so far as requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to evaluate their agencies.
Under Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, he requires all agencies to review the police and develop plans to improve them in their reaction and interactions with the public. Any agency that refuses to do this will lose their state funding – which is a main source of funding for all police departments in New York.
The mayor of Ithaca, New York is Svante Myrick. He decided to take this moment in time to promote his personal feelings about police officers in his own community. Now, before I get into the actual plan and point out how absurd this plan is and how out of touch with reality the mayor is, let me give you some background information.
Ithaca, NY has a census population of approximately 30,569 residents. It is the home of Cornell University. At any given time, the actual population is a little over 50,000 residents and students, combined. Ithaca Police Department has 63 police officers and an annual budget of $12.5 million dollars.
This means that Ithaca Police Department has an average of one officer for every 485 regular residents (based on census numbers) or one officer for every 794 residents when Cornell University is in session.
The national average in the United States is one officer for every 333 residents. These numbers are important and I will elaborate on why in a bit.
Mayor Myrick advised that his new plan for the department was the culmination of input from the community, law enforcement, city officials, county officials and “professionals” on community service. I decided to see how much Mayor Myrick relied on community input for his plan, based on community input in the report.
Mayor Myrick had 130 unique participants of the community involved. Theses participants were involved in either on-line meetings or one of a few in-person meetings. Yes, you are reading that number correct: 130! That is .004% of the community population. So, Mayor Myrick based his plan on less than ½ of 1 percent of the population.
In other words, 99.6% of the population did not give input on his plan.
The data, provided in the plan reports, also states that they targeted specific groups, based on race, income, sexual orientation, sex and education level. Why? Well, according to the Mayor and the Governor’s Executive Order, these are the people being unfairly targeted by law enforcement officers.
The report states that of the 130 community members, there was, “an overrepresentation of blacks and Hispanics compared to the percentage they represent in the population.” The report further broke this down and specifically gave data on 9 individuals they reviewed data from. The 9 included 7 black, 1 Hispanic and 1 white citizen. Their average income was under $13,000 and their education level was middle school to GED recipients and all but one individual was over 44.
I believe it is important to understand this information, as it shows the targeted input Mayor Myrick wanted. He specifically decided to target individuals who statistically have a better chance of negative contact with law enforcement officers. They are individuals who come from low education and low economic statuses.
History shows that they are more likely to be involved in street-level criminal activity or to reside in locations where criminal activity is more prevalent. This has nothing to do with race, just socio-economics.
I would personally like to know the family structure of these individuals, as that has even a more dramatic impact on criminal behavior, as noted in several studies.
It should also be noted that none of the meetings with the community focus groups was recorded.
The report stated that participants feared anyone speaking out against the police officers may be targeted at a later time. Instead of recording the sessions, so they could have physical evidence of what was or was not said, they relied on someone taking notes. Sorry folks, that just doesn’t cut it with me.
I’ve been a secretary for several organizations throughout my life and police career. We all know that a note-taker is only as good as their ability to multi-task and write in a speedy fashion. There is a reason all community meetings, other than this one, are recorded: accuracy. In addition, but telling participants they will not be recorded, so they do not have to worry about retaliation.
No recordings automatically tells community participants that they should not trust or believe in police officers. In my opinion, it sets a tone with these community members that there must be a problem, because citizens would have to worry about retaliation if the meeting was recorded.
Mayor Myrick stated that he also took input from the Ithaca Police Department officers.
I was a union agency president, as well as a union representative for 18 years of my career. Due to my history of representing officers, I wanted to know what type of input the mayor had received from the officers.
According to the documentation in the mayor’s report, he spoke with officers, sergeants, lieutenants, and other staff. Ithaca Police Department is represented by the Police Benevolent Association. A spokesperson for the union said that the mayor held meetings with officers which lasted exactly 40 minutes.
During these meetings, specific leading questions were asked by the mayor for officers to answer.
When officers attempted to expand or ask other questions, they were ignored or shut down. All meetings were stopped after 40 minutes, whether officers still wanted to provide input or not. I’ll let our readers draw your their own conclusions from this type of meeting, but it doesn’t sound like the mayor really cared for true input from police officers.
So, before I get into this new plan, let’s just summarize what input Mayor Myrick used to help develop his plan: less than ½ of 1% of his area’s population provided input, individual participants were selected based on: race, sex, income, education and sexual orientation. The officers’ input was limited to 40 minutes where specific questions asked by the admin and no expansion was allowed. There were “professionals” in community relations present as well, but I did not see the specific information on these individuals.
Now that you know how Mayor Myrick received input, what exactly is his plan? Mayor Myrick has decided that the Ithaca Police Department needs to be replaced with a whole new agency. This agency will be led by a civilian Director of Public Safety and will hire “Armed Public Safety Officers” and “Unarmed Community Solution Workers.”
In Mayor Myrick’s report, he states that all current law enforcement officers will need to reapply for their jobs, to the new Public Safety Director. The report states that the officers are not guaranteed a job, nor are they given any preference over new applicants despite already working for the city. Additionally, each officer would be required to go through another background check and review of their personnel file, by the new Director.
In other words, the 63 officers, who have placed their lives on the line for the citizens of Ithaca, would suddenly be unemployed. There is no claim that any of these officers has done anything wrong, or that they are the recipients of a statistically high number of complaints from citizens. Nope, they just happen to work for Mayor Myrick and apparently, they mean absolutely nothing to him. In fact, one of the last pages of the report shows the majority of citizens like the Ithaca Police Department, think they do a good job, and feel safe in their city. So why the change?
Mayor Myrick readily admits that his proposed plan is a drastic change from the way people think about public safety and police departments. But he says he feels the change will be beneficial to citizens and police officers. Myrick stated, “1/3 of police department calls do not result in arrest. These 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 (police officers to the rest of us) to focus on preventing, interrupting and solving serious crime.” So, Myrick, in his own words states that the department needs to be changed because 33% of interactions do not result in an arrest. If that is the case for change, then many officers around the nation should be ready to find a new line of work; even when I worked in one of the busiest projects in Florida, a vast majority of my calls for service did not result in an arrest.
This is where our issues start to arise. Politicians and many in the community have zero understanding of the law enforcement job. In one of my earlier articles, I mentioned the name Peace Officer as a better description for what we do the majority of the shift. But politicians and citizens do not understand this, until they are the ones calling us to maintain the peace. Most people want us to arrive before someone needs to be arrested.
I guess Mayor Myrick doesn’t fall into that category.
From his statement, if law enforcement officers are not arresting someone, then someone else can do that portion of the job. I wonder what would happen if Ithaca Police Department officers started arresting people at 90% of the calls for service? I would bet that you would see a huge rise in mistrust of the police, claims of abuse of power and a feeling of being less safe in the city. Those of us who do the job also know that to hit such high numbers would take very creative pen work and flimsy charges, at best. Is this what Mayor Myrick wants for his officers?
Now let’s take a moment to look at the problems associated with hizz honor’s plan. First, let me say that he makes a statement that sounds wonderful, until you actually read AND think about it. Mayor Myrick wants a lot of the mundane calls to be handled by Unarmed Community Solution Workers. According to the plan, these will be professionals that are highly trained in de-escalation techniques and community solution techniques.
These people, according to the plan, will be sent to calls for service involving mental patients, homeless people, building checks, parking issues, vehicle crashes, child complaints, noise complaints and possibly some narcotics complaints. I say ‘some’ because Mayor Myrick has also suggested city establish injection sites for drug users and he is pushing drug law policy reform to decriminalize most of it.
As a police officer, many of those calls for service were the ones I hated going to. I’ve been to calls for service where neighbors argued over who cut the grass on the property line, barking dogs, little Johnny refusing to do his homework and vehicles parked in the roadway. I would have loved someone else being available to take those calls for service, as I am positive most officers would. My agency had Community Service Officers, so why didn’t we use them for those types of calls?
Well, we all know that just because a call for service is dispatched or identified as a low threat, mundane call for service, it doesn’t always stay that way.
- The grass cutting call I went to turned into a knockdown, drag out fight between two elderly gentlemen. As I arrived on scene, one man ran inside and came back out with a gun to confront the other.
- The vehicle parked in the road turned into a barricaded, armed suspect in the vehicle, because a rape victim had just escaped from him.
- Little Johnny refusing to do his homework turned into an attempted suicide because he couldn’t understand his homework and felt his life wasn’t worth living.
It is the unknowns that make it mandatory for police officers to respond to these “mundane” calls for service. Sure, maybe after we arrive and find out it really is mundane, we could call in a Community Solution Worker. In fact, that would be a great idea for families in a crisis, individuals that needed some assistance, or similar such situations. No police officer would ever argue that and you would not get a single officer upset if that became a policy.
What we don’t want is an Unarmed Community Solution Worker responding first, the situation going bad, and the worker either getting hurt or becoming a hostage.
Mayor Myrick’s plan says this will not be an issue, as they will have professionals deciding who to send to the call. These professionals must be behavior analyst, much like the Behavioral Analysis Unit in the FBI, right? Highly trained, years of experience, master’s degrees in human psychology, with the ability to determine everything within minutes of receiving a phone call, right? Not quite. They are the 911 dispatchers for the county.
As I have written before, I love my dispatchers. I hold them in the highest esteem and think they truly are First Responders and deserve that recognition. But, NO ONE can determine if a call for service will go bad over the telephone. I don’t care if they psychic and have a crystal ball sitting at the desk with them, human emotions and reactions can never be predicted with absolute certainty. Even worse, imagine the repercussions these dispatchers will face if they make the wrong call. The problems that can and will arise, are limitless. The stress placed upon these individuals will become unbearable.
Mayor Myrick’s plan does emphasize that the Unarmed Community Solution Workers will be “highly trained in de-escalation techniques and service delivery.” This would make them safe if things went south right? Absolutely NOT!
After my first officer-involved shooting, I decided to seek out training in de-escalation techniques. I have more than 280 hours of specialized training in “talking” with individuals to de-escalate situations which is more than most officers I know. I was the supervisor for our Crisis Intervention Team that was developed to specifically address individuals that needed de-escalation during a crisis. While my training did help in a lot of calls, there were still many where de-escalation was not an option or did not work.
What happens when that is the case with Mayor Myrick’s plan?
The Mayor seems to believe that by reducing the number of contacts between citizens and armed police officers, things will magically transform in his crime areas. Suddenly, rainbows will appear, all of the citizens will be smiling, crises will disappear and criminals will stop their illicit activity.
I would love that to be the case. I wish there was no need for armed law enforcement officers. Most police officers I know wish this. Unfortunately, we also know that isn’t how humans work. There will always be those who prey upon the weaker individuals in society and for that reason, there will always be a need for armed law enforcement officers.
Can changes be made which will make our interactions better, i.e. more pleasant? Of course! But I caution that there is nothing that can change until ALL parties are willing to talk, listen and understand. Each one of us needs to see how our own, individual behavior effects a situation AND they start taking responsibility for themselves.
I read through a lot of the public comments from the 130 individuals the study spoke with. Many of the comments were the same: police need better training, police are too military-like, police are too aggressive, police don’t understand the community, police treat black and brown people differently, the police must …
Not one of the citizens ever stated anything that citizens could change or do differently in interactions with the police. They seem to think, probably because of their limited knowledge and understanding of police work, that the Ithaca Police Department officers are just waiting in the bushes to jump on people (especially black or brown people), scream at them, beat them a little and make their lives miserable.
I know that isn’t the case and so do 99% of the citizens. However, the mayor’s focus group just didn’t talk to any of them.
Ithaca Police Department officers have also made statements regarding changes they would like to see implemented. The number one change they would like: more training for officers. This is one aspect that officers and citizens always seem to agree on. Officers want training, they need training and they should be provided ample training.
So why doesn’t it take place? Easy: personnel staffing and money. I wonder if Mayor Myrick would agree to spend another $500,000 on the police department, if it guaranteed that every officer could attend annual training on de-escalation and personal defense training. Maybe if he met the national average of officers per person, his officers could receive the training they desire and reduce some the issues citizens claim.
Officers have other changes they want to see, as well, which included sharing more information about the job, engaging the public more, and finding ways to improve communication and relationships with the community. Ideas like these don’t sound like the kind that would come from cops who are just waiting to jump on innocent people would come up with.
These sound like ideas coming from men and women who genuinely care about their community, want to do their best and want the citizens to feel safe. They sound like the ideas of the vast majority of police officers I know and whom I have worked with over the years.
Why doesn’t Mayor Myrick look at these ideas and try putting them in place first? They would definitely be easier, take less time to enact and cost less money than his plan. Could it be that there is more to it than his claim of wanting to make everything better?
Mayor Myrick and the Ithaca HR Department head have been battling with the PBA which is the union that represents the officers. In fact, the Mayor, in his report, states that there has been an ongoing battle between the union and the agency. There were no specifics given by the mayor.
I was afraid that if I asked the union, it may become even more personal against officers. Make no mistake: the mayor’s statement provides proof that there is more to this story than he is willing to reveal in public.
There is also the way the plan was revealed. Most people would expect their mayor to release this type of information to the citizens first, through the city website, a community meeting, the local newspaper or something of that nature. Most people would also expect that the Ithaca Police Department would be given a copy of the report, before the release to the public (maybe just a few minutes before, but at least before) so they could be prepared.
Nope, that is not what Mayor Myrick did. He decided to unveil his new, admittedly “radical” plan to GQ Magazine. Yes, you read that right, GQ Magazine. If it wasn’t for their left of the aisle political beliefs they love to promote, I wouldn’t even know what GQ Magazine was anymore. What started out as a gentlemen’s magazine, promoting things often associated with the picture-perfect James Bond persona, has turned into a leftist propaganda machine.
Why would the Mayor release his plan to GQ?
Simple: he knew the readers and reporters of that magazine would love his plan, never delve into the how the plan was developed, never look at the demographics of how many and who the focus group spoke with, and they would make Mayor Myrick seem like a hero. There is no other reason to release the plan to this particular magazine. It has nothing to do with police agencies, government policy, or anything else associated with the decision the mayor made.
Unfortunately, for Mayor Myrick, his release did not sit well with many, including a person like me! In fact, it made me want to dig into his plan as far as I could, and look into his decision-making process. His action led me to believe there was something not quite right about his claims of speaking with the community, wanting betterment for all and supporting the officers of Ithaca Police Department. His report shows that NONE of that is true; unless you consider less than ½ of 1% of the population as being a good representation for the entire city.
It is my belief, based solely upon the mayor’s actions and his limited focus group, that the mayor has a personal vendetta against the Ithaca Police Department and its officers.
Why else would you focus on such a small group of citizens?
Why else would you hide the report, making it almost impossible to find on the city website?
Why else would you release the final report to GQ Magazine?
Mayor Myrick has truly shown himself to deserve being the recipient of CopBlue’s Horse’s Ass Award, but I don’t believe that is enough. I believe Mayor Myrick deserves to be the recipient of CopBlue’s first Spreading More Bullshit than a Farmer Award!
I can only hope that the citizens of Ithaca, the majority of whom approve of the job the police department is doing, stand up to this mayor and the city council. Tell them to take their bullshit and spread it somewhere else.
As for my Brothers and Sisters at the Ithaca Police Department: CopBlue has your six! Stand tall, stand proud, and continue to hold the Thin Blue Line! God Bless each and every one of you!
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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