Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick says he has developed a plan that would be one of the most-progressive in the United States.
It would replace the current police force with an agency made up of armed ‘public safety workers’ and unarmed ‘community solution workers’. Each would be dispatched to different sets of situations.
“What the report finds is both a deep appreciation for the current officers and a compelling case that we need an even better, transformed system. We need our public safety officers to better represent the diversity of the community, be better equipped to de-escalate conflict, and be better able to connect people in crisis with social services,” Myrick wrote.
The mayor had to apologize to officers with the current police department because the entire, sweeping transformation was unveiled in GQ magazine.
The community, as well as the police department, were taken by surprise.
Chief Dennis Nayor told NewsChannel9 in Syracuse that he didn’t want to get in a public disagreement with the mayor. However, he was shocked by the outcome. “I did not know it was going to be anything so sweeping and radical,” Nayor added. “We all agree that we would rather see other people dealing with those calls, mental health clinicians, social workers. We do a lot because there is no one else to do them. We become the catch-all for everything that goes on.”
The Ithaca Common Council will need to approve the city’s plan. The Tompkins County Legislature will consider a similar one.