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Ithaca PBA says police staffing, violence in city has reached crisis level

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The president of the union representing cops within the Ithaca Police Department says violent crime in the city and a staffing crisis have combined to create an emergency situation.

He called the combination of issues ‘critical’ and said that attempts by groups like the Ithaca PBA to get city officials to address staffing have fallen flat.

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Despite the attempts of the PBA to shed light on the issues surrounding staffing and violent crime, City Hall has remained mostly silent and has offered no real solutions even in the wake of the recent stabbing murder that occurred just blocks from the Ithaca Commons, a press release from the Ithaca PBA said.

It goes on to suggest that some members of City Hall, including Acting Mayor Lewis, will not even acknowledge that staffing is an emergency.

IPD has 23 police officers remaining in the patrol division, and should be staffed with a minimum of 36 officers, the PBA says. The City’s population of 32,000 is a leading reason for having 36 officers.

“We don’t have enough Ithaca Police Officers to effectively police the City and keep our community safe. It’s just that simple,” Ithaca PBA President Thomas Condzella said in a release. “The Mayor needs to make a strong commitment to public safety and the future of the Ithaca Police Department, just like the PBA and the Police Officers have made a strong public commitment to reimagining public safety.”

Condzella said the PBA continues to make progress in reform efforts and added that he is excited about an upcoming series of community round tables that are being facilitated by the PBA and other groups. He also said that it’s important that a clear distinction is made between ‘Recommendation 1’, the proposal to abolish the IPD that was personally written into the plan by the former mayor which has caused much controversy, and the rest of the reimagining initiative which the PBA supports.

“Until we can walk forward together, hand-in-hand, as partners nothing will change,” Condzella added. A bonus or incentive program has not worked, he contends, attracting police officers, because many believe the department will be abolished. “There are perspective applicants out that there still believe IPD is going to be abolished and at times, I question it myself,” he continued. “Our once excellent reputation has been destroyed in the law enforcement community in New York and beyond and we are scrambling to repair it. This is not how we want to serve our community be we’re doing the best we can. We simply can’t recruit or retain cops because of the damage done to IPD.