March 4, 2003

Mayor Cohen '81 Names New Police Chief

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City of Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 presented Victor Loo as the new chief of the Ithaca Police Department (IPD) at a small gathering yesterday in City Hall.

Loo will join the force April 14 pending tomorrow’s Common Council hearing and a March 26 civil service test — both of which are thought to be formalities.

Both the police chief search committee and Cohen were pleased with the selection of Loo.

Cohen said he made a “firm decision” in selecting Loo, “who was by far the best choice for the city.”

“He has the strength, character and heart that is necessary to lead our police department,” Cohen said.

Loo Honored

In accepting the appointment, Loo thanked Cohen and the search committee, saying he was “honored” to come to this “beautiful city” and work with “officers that are truly professional.”

Loo comes from the New York City Police Department, where he retired in March 2002. During Loo’s years on the force, he worked as a lieutenant in operations, internal affairs, vice enforcement and recruit discipline.

Loo said that he would take his “experience in the city dealing with crime and the community and bring some of those strategies [up] from New York.”

“I would like to improve relations between the community and the department,” he said.

To follow up with this pledge, Loo said he would soon meet with community leaders to discuss important issues and concerns relating to the department.

Pat Pryor, 1st Ward representative and member of the search committee, cited the importance of Loo’s pledge to “focus on the community” in his selection by the committee.

She said that, more than anything, the committee liked Loo because of “a combination of skills.” The committee selected eight candidates from a larger pool and then made a recommendation of three finalists to Cohen.

After the committee made its recommendation, Cohen visited the finalists in their home communities and then made his decision based on interviews he conducted.

Of the process and the search committee, Cohen said, “I was fortunate to have good choices. Each candidate brought strengths, and I just felt that Victor Loo was the best fit.”

In responding to a question about this September’s crackdown on campus and Collegetown parties, Loo cited his vice experience and said, “We will be better prepared for this year,” and that the department will “try to identify those problem locations.”

He defined those problem locations as fraternities and bars, but later corrected himself and said he did not want to make “blanket statements.” Instead, he said, he and the department would “look at the source of the problem.”

Later, Cohen also emphasized that fraternities will not be made an explicit target of police activity.

Loo will replace Lauren Signer, whom Cohen appointed last March as acting chief to replace Richard Basile when he retired that month.

There was no time limit set for the search committee, and as Pryor said, this gave the committee a mandate to find the best candidate. The committee was made up of three appointees from the Common Council, three from the Community Police Board and one Cohen appointee with law enforcement experience.


Archived article by Michael Margolis