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Home » News » Ithaca Mayor-elect Lewis rescinds police chief nomination after going rogue from selection committee: How did it happen?

Ithaca Mayor-elect Lewis rescinds police chief nomination after going rogue from selection committee: How did it happen?

  • / Updated:
  • Josh Durso 

The new mayor in Ithaca is changing course on her planned nomination for police chief.

In a joint-statement from Mayor-elect Laura Lewis and Acting Chief John Joly the City will go another direction.

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Just a few days earlier it appeared the City was on the brink of naming Joly the next chief of police, and that he had Lewis’ support.

Now, the City of Ithaca will start over.

“Last week, I nominated Acting Chief Joly for the position of Police Chief. He has a long history of dedicated service to the department, including as Deputy Chief and, during the past challenging 19 months, as Acting Chief. I believe his experience could have served the department and City well going forward,” the statement from Lewis began. “After careful consideration, however, I believe it is necessary to change course now and reopen the search. I respect the fact that a number of my colleagues disagreed with my recommendation and so I will be removing this appointment from the December 7 Common Council agenda.”

She called it an ‘extremely difficult decision’ and said future plans for a reopened search would be outlined in the near future.

For his part, Acting Chief Joly said he was ‘disappointed’ by Common Council’s conclusion on his proposed appointment.

“I’m confident I would have continued to serve the City and the Department well as Chief, but I also respect that this is a decision that the Common Council needs to support. I wish the IPD all the best and, like all of us, wish the Mayor success in recruiting another excellent candidate to this crucial and difficult role.”

The circumstances that led to this moment were reported on by The Ithaca Voice. There were three candidates and a lengthy, public interview process. In addition to Joly, IPD lieutenant Scott Garin and Binghamton Police Department Captain Chris Bracco were finalists.

The Voice reported on Monday that Joly’s appointment had been ‘subtly slipped’ into the end of the Common Council meeting slated for Wednesday. The issue appears to be that Joly was not the selection committee’s choice. Common Council had created a selection committee to navigate the hiring process, and out of that committee came Garin.

It’s unclear why Lewis, who has faced an array of challenges since Election Day, wanted to go with Joly over Garin. But slipping his name into the agenda wasn’t received well by members of Common Council. There have been high-profile staff departures from City Hall, and union negotiations resulting in an array of press releases from competing sides sent to local media outlets.