Ithaca’s Public Safety Department has its Architects

Report Cover-02

ITHACA, NY — The City of Ithaca’s forthcoming Public Safety Department now has it’s architects.

On March 31st, The City of Ithaca voted to adopt the Reimagining Public Safety Plan. Tompkins County voted to adopt the same plan on March 30th. Objectives in the plan are specific to the City and County’s jurisdiction. Of the objectives in the City’s portion of the plan, the boldest is forming a new Department of Public Safety, replacing the Ithaca Police Department. 

On Thursday, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick announced the people in the working-group designing the new department.

Former City Alderperson, Eric Rosario will serve as the project lead. There are seventeen total members in the group. They include Members of the Ithaca Police Department, current Common Council members, and community activists.

The group is slated to submit preliminary recommendations to Ithaca’s Common Council by September 1st — recommendations that include naming conventions, job descriptions and a title for the department. 

Between September and November, the group will form recommendations on call type responsibility, training, and an operating budget.

Myrick notes that the work of designing and implementing the department will not be finished with the tasks this working group has before it, projecting that it will likely take years to completely replace the Ithaca Police Department.

The working group will begin meeting on July 15th, with regularly weekly meetings after.

While this group is tasked with designing various aspects of the new Public Safety Department, the department’s implementation — as well as the implementation of all the recommendations in the Reimagining Public Safety Plan — are left to the newly formed Community Justice Center (CJC). A joint department between the County and the City, the CJC saw its first two staff positions approved by the Tompkins County Legislature last week: Project Director and Data Analyst. 

The forthcoming staffing of the CJC, and the formation of the working-group designing the Public Safety Department are both significant milestones in the Reimagining Plan’s realization.

At the time Ithaca and Tompkins County voted to accept the Reimagining plan, it was just a set of recommendations, a framework. The absence of meticulous detail and a specific timeline for the development of the City’s Public Safety Department may in part be explained by the compressed timeline along which Ithaca and Tompkins County developed the Reimagining Plan.

In June 2020, amid the national uprisings and protests against police brutality toward black men and women, New York Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203. The order required local governments across New York to address racial bias in their police departments; evaluate new trainings around police use-of-force and de-escalation policies; and develop a plan to address these issues and others with the involvement and input of the local community.

The order required that these plans be submitted to Cuomo’s desk by April 1st, 2021, giving communities and local governments just over nine months to organize working-groups, connect with local stakeholders, and engage the public to form these plans.

Throughout the Reimagining Public Safety Plan’s development and finalization in Tompkins County and Ithaca, officials have created opportunities for public engagement and input. Such opportunities regarding the working group’s department designs and recommendations for the Common Council are set to be announced as they become available.

The following groups and people have been announced as part of the working group designing the City’s Public Safety Department, or assisting the working group in some capacity. 

Eric Rosario

  • Project Lead  
  • Former City Alderperson 
  • Philanthropic Advisor 
  • Community Advocate 


Lieutenant Scott Garin: 

  • Ithaca Police Department 
  • PBA (Union) 


Sergeant Tom Condzella

  • Ithaca Police Department 
  • PBA (Union) President 


Sergeant Mary Orsaio

  • LGBTQ Liaison 
  • Ithaca Police Department 
  • PBA (Union) 


George Mcgonigal: 

  • City Alderperson 
  • 1st Ward


Ducson Nguyen

  • City Alderperson 
  • 2nd Ward 


Laura Lewis

  • City Alderperson  
  • 5th Ward 


Travis Brooks

  • Deputy Director 
  • GIAC 
  • Project Manager for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and My Brother’s Keeper  Lead 


Mar’Quon Frederick

  • Rising Cornell University sophomore 
  • Political Action Chair for the Black Student Union 


Savannah Gonzalez

  • Community Activist 
  • New Roots Student 


John Guttridge

  • Business Owner 
  • Volunteer 
  • Property Developer 


Amos Malone

  • Pastor, 2nd Chance Ministries 
  • Community Activist 
  • Human Rights Commission 
  • Southside Community Center Board of Directors 


Luca Maurer: 

  • Director, LGBTQ Education, Outreach and Services at Ithaca College 
  • Author 


Thaddeus McClain: 

  • Community Activist 


Yasmin Rachid

  • VP, Unbroken Promise Initiative  
  • Community Activist
  • Mediator 


Amir Tazi

  • Black Feminist Abolitionist 
  • Publications Coordinator for Black Student Union 
  • Creator of Soul Beginnings (Creative Writing Collective) 
  • Co-Creator of Empowering Blackness at IC 
  • My Brother’s Keeper Alumni 
  • Founder of MOOR (a small art collective) 
  • Rising Senior at Ithaca College 


Karen Yearwood

  • Operations Effectiveness Manager at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County Former Executive Director of Village at Ithaca 
  • Strong advocate for equity in education  


Technical assistance for the working group will be provided by: 

  • Center for Policing Equity
  • Human Resources Director Schelley Michell-Nunn
  • Acting Police Chief John Joly
  • Communication Lead Melody Faraday
  • City Controller Steve Thayer
  • City Attorney’s Office
  • District Attorney Matthew Van Houten
  • Administrative Support - Annie Sherman
  • Community Police Board – Shirley Kane & Richard Rogers