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City of Ithaca News

Posted on: June 24, 2021

Reimagining Public Safety Working Group Announced


Reimagining Public Safety Working Group Formed to Design City of Ithaca's Department of Public Safety


(Ithaca, N.Y., June 24, 2021) – City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick announced the formation of a working group that will serve to facilitate the replacement of the City of Ithaca Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. This working group is charged with designing a new agency custom-tailored to provide solutions to the community's distinct safety and health needs following the passage of the Reimagining Public Safety Plan on March 31.


Mayor Myrick worked closely with City of Ithaca Director of Human Resources Schelley Michell-Nunn, stating that they have “... identified a strong core of working group members, city staff to assist with technical support, and the Center for Policing Equity as ongoing collaborators. We’re focused on continuing to center the voices of constituents of color and city residents from a diversity of lived experiences.”


This working group will deliver to the Common Council a set of preliminary recommendations including naming conventions, job descriptions, and title of the department, by the September 1, 2021 deadline set in the City’s unanimously passed Reimagining Public Safety plan. Additional recommendations regarding delineated call type responsibility, training, and operating budget will be created September- November of 2021. Mayor Myrick notes that "The work to design and implement the new department will likely take years. And we should not expect that all questions will be answered by September 1st. The time investment that we’re putting toward this work will help ensure we have the most equitable and thoughtfully developed outcomes for residents.”


Former City Alderperson Eric Rosario will serve as Project Lead, says Myrick: “I am thrilled that Eric Rosario has agreed to serve as the Project Lead. His long history in our city, his leadership in CLOC (Community Leaders of Color), co-founding of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, his past experience on Common Council, and current service on the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency, along with his deliberative and collaborative approach to problem solving made him the ideal candidate. We don't take this work lightly, and we know there will need to be strong support within the Working Group, we look forward to appointing someone from within the group to act as Eric's Co-Lead soon.”


Project Lead Eric Rosario states: “I am deeply honored by the trust the Mayor and City have placed in me. I feel privileged to work alongside the members of this working group and our advisors. The community’s charge to us as expressed through the Common Council’s unanimous vote to reimagine public safety is clear. The outline and parameters for the new department have been defined. Our job is to recommend how to operationalize these guidelines in the real-world while taking a diverse set of constituent needs, centering those most vulnerable in our community, into consideration."


The ongoing collaborative efforts between the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County towards Reimagining Public Safety continue to be guided carefully by community input and the support of the Center for Policing Equity, a non-profit research think tank founded in 2008 that centers vulnerable communities, uses evidence-based approaches to social justice problems, and conducts research to create levers for social, cultural, and policy change.


“The City of Ithaca and Tompkins County will be models for other communities nationwide looking to reimagine public safety,” said Tracie Keesee, co-founder and senior vice president of Social Justice Initiatives for CPE. “The working group has the incredible responsibility of providing additional recommendations to the Common Council for implementation. This important step will move everyone closer to a more equitable public safety system for all residents, especially those most impacted.”


Next steps for the Collaborative will be the hiring of the Project Director and Data Analyst to staff the Community Justice Center, and the launch of new online project management software that will host project updates and offer robust opportunities for digital community engagement.

Onboarding for the group begins on July 15, 2021, with regular meetings to be held weekly thereafter. Opportunities for community engagement will be announced as they become available.

The following community members have agreed to serve as working group members:


 Eric Rosario:

 Project Lead 

 Former City Alderperson

 Philanthropic Advisor

 Community Advocate


 Lieutenant Scott Garin: 

 Ithaca Police Department

 PBA (Union)


 Sergeant Tom Condzella:

 Ithaca Police Department

 PBA (Union) President


 Sergeant Mary Orsaio:

 LGBTQ Liaison

 Ithaca Police Department

 PBA (Union)


 George Mcgonigal:

 City Alderperson

 1st Ward

 Ducson Nguyen: 

 City Alderperson

 2nd Ward


 Laura Lewis:

 City Alderperson 

 5th Ward


 Travis Brooks:

 Deputy Director, GIAC

 Project Manager for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and My Brother’s Keeper Lead


 Mar’Quon Frederick:

 Rising Cornell University sophomore

 Political Action Chair for the Black Student Union. 


 Savannah Gonzalez:

 Community Activist

 New Roots Student


 John Guttridge: 

 Business Owner


 Property Developer


 Amos Malone:

 Pastor, 2nd Chance Ministries

 Community Activist

 Human Rights Commission

 Southside Community Center Board of Directors


 Luca Maurer: 

 Director, LGBTQ Education, Outreach and Services at Ithaca College



 Thaddeus McClain:

 Community Activist


 Yasmin Rashid:

 VP, Unbroken Promise Initiative 

 Community Activist



 Amir Tazi:

 Black Feminist Abolitionist

 Publications Coordinator for Black Student Union

 Creator of Soul Beginnings (Creative Writing Collective)

 Co-Creator of Empowering Blackness at Ithaca College

 My Brother’s Keeper Alumni

 Founder of MOOR (a small art collective)

 Rising Senior at Ithaca College


 Karen Yearwood:

 Operations Effectiveness Manager at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

 Former Executive Director of Village at Ithaca

 Strong advocate for equity in education

Technical assistance for the working group will be provided by:

  • Center for Policing Equity
  • Human Resources Director Schelley Michell-Nunn
  • Acting Police Chief John Joly
  • Communication Lead Melody Faraday
  • City Controller Steve Thayer
  • City Attorney’s Office
  • District Attorney Matthew Van Houten
  • Administrative Support - Annie Sherman
  • Community Police Board – Shirley Kane & Richard Rogers

Members of the press are invited to a media availability with Project Lead Eric Rosario and Mayor Myrick following the Working Group’s first meeting on June 29 at 5:30 pm. ( Register via zoom here )

For more information, please contact Melody Faraday, City of Ithaca Public Information Specialist

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