Last night a crowd of about 35 community members and students came together at 7 p.m. at the Tompkins Cortland Community College Extension Building for a Campus-Community Coalition Meeting featuring a question and answer session with Ithaca Police Chief Lauren Signer.
Having been with the Ithaca Police Department for five years, she was named to her new position this year.
“It’s been a month, there are a lot of challenges ahead; we’re looking to work with students and improve communication,” said Signer.
In response to questions about the noise ordinance, she said, “Anecdotally, the noise ordinance has been a boon to the police department; we can press the issues ourselves and don’t have to wait for a call.”
A resident said, “Thank you! Now I can sleep.”
There is a noise ordinance database of the date, time, complaint, and outcome of the incident: warning or arrest. One officer said that more half of the noise violations have been warnings.
“What we’ve learned in the criminal justice world is that taking care of what appear to be little issues, noise and quality of life issues, helps us catch the perpetrators of more heinous crimes.” said Signer, who added, “People being victimized when under the influence of alcohol or drugs when there is diminished judgement all around is a big problem.”
Crimes in collegetown were also addressed at the meeting. Cornell Judicial Administrator Mary Beth Grant asked about students as victims of crimes this year as compared to other years.
“We have unfortunately had a lot more publicity about students being victims,” said Signer. According to Signer, the weather has a lot to do with the problem as well as students leaving windows and doors open, but the video surveillance was unusual with one alleged perpetrator and many victims.
“I have literally gone door-to-door in Collegetown giving out pamplets to students to tell them what they can be arrested for and give them basic safety tips,” Officer Christine Barksdale said.
She added that there are many burglaries in the winter when most students leave the area and advised locking doors, not leaving valuables in plain sight, and alerting the police that the house is supposed to be vacant for that period of time.
When asked what the police are doing about the “Collegetown Creeper”, Signer said that the Ithaca Police Department has a plan and continues to discuss different strategies. She added that they are working with the Cornell Police Department and that they ask students to let them know if they see anything suspicious.
The Ithaca Police Department is also doing joint patrols with Cornell Police and working on building relationships and improving communication.
“Drinking in college is inevitable,” said an Ithaca College student, “We need places where people can go for social situations without drinking and many places are locked down.”
“We do need to provide an alternative,” said Signer, “Cornell has been quite creative for the stuffy institution that they are.”
“It’s a great event, it would help if more students actually came to it.” said Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward).
Student-Elected Trustee Jamie Koppell ’05, said, “People are aware that police are handling the situation, that they aren’t being ignored.”
“There are still lots of issues with the noise ordinance; we’ll continue to work to make it as fair as possible for all residents. Right now, the number one priority is catching the people who are terrorizing collegetown and making it unsafe for young women who live there.” said Micheal Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward).
Archived article by Vanessa Hoffman
Sun Staff Writer