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Ithaca police officer who sued city settles for $275,000

Sarah Crews, an Ithaca police officer embroiled in a controversial case involving allegations of departmental discrimination due to her gender identity, will retire in good standing, following a settlement with the City of Ithaca and the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association.

The decision comes two months after an independent arbitrator cleared Crews of all departmental charges. Crews, who identifies as openly gay and non-binary, joined the police department in 2007 and had an unblemished record until 2018, which she attributes to her gender non-conformity.

The department had accused Crews of “insubordination” and “conduct” violations in five separate incidents over a five-month span. These allegations were rejected by an independent arbitrator citing insufficient proof and the lack of probable cause for termination.

The union argues that the city selectively enforced department rules, targeting Crews, and that the city’s inaction on changing search policies triggered emotional distress for Crews. As per the agreement, Crews will retire next year, receive a payment of $275,000 from the city, and both parties are prohibited from pursuing further legal action.