Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis has canceled the open competitive Ithaca police chief exam that was scheduled for March 23rd, 2023.
This move comes after at least five experienced law enforcement professionals from the Ithaca community submitted their applications to be considered for the position. Three of the applicants are longstanding members of the Ithaca Police Department, while the other two are from other law enforcement agencies in the area. The application period for the exam opened on December 22nd, 2022, and closed on February 9th, 2023.
Applicants were shocked to receive an unsigned letter from the City of Ithaca Department of Human Resources on February 15th, indicating that the exam was being postponed with no mention of a rescheduled date. The President of the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association (PBA), Tom Condzella, expressed disappointment in the Mayor’s decision to cancel the exam, stating that internal recruitment and reimagining efforts at IPD have been severely damaged since the previous chief search last year.
Condzella claims that the Mayor’s actions have crippled IPD and destroyed morale among its members. He cites at least three internal candidates and two external local candidates who are ready to take on the role of police chief at IPD. He further alleges that the Mayor is intentionally circumventing the New York State Civil Service Law by canceling the exam and proceeding with a costly national search that will likely result in the selection of a candidate with no ties to the community.
Despite the current staffing crisis, Condzella reassured the public that the PBA and Ithaca Police Officers will continue to move forward with reform efforts with or without the support of Mayor Lewis. He cited the community dashboard, community roundtable discussions, policy updates, efforts towards obtaining accreditation, and multiple community policing initiatives as examples of the work that has already taken place internally to support local reform efforts.
Mayor Lewis’s decision to cancel the exam has been met with disappointment and frustration from the Ithaca community. The move has left the future leadership of IPD uncertain, with no clear path forward.
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