January 22, 2012

Mayor to Investigate Accusations Against Ithaca Police Officer

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Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 announced Friday that he will personally look into the investigation of Marlon Byrd, a lieutenant in the Ithaca Police Department who faces allegations that he had assisted drug dealers. The accusations arose during the arbitration of another IPD officer in 2010 and 2011.

Deviating from the stance of former Mayor Carolyn Peterson, who left the investigation of Byrd to the  IPD, Myrick emphasized the need for the Mayor’s office to oversee the investigation.

“These are very serious allegations,” Myrick said in a statement released on Jan. 13, almost two weeks after he took office. “I welcome further investigation by the District Attorney’s office.”

During the arbitration of IPD officer Chris Miller, several witnesses testified under oath that Byrd, a veteran of IPD for 20 years, gave local narcotics dealers information about pending drug investigations —  including the times and locations of drug raids — and held substances for them, according to documents originally obtained by The Ithaca Journal.

Police reviewed the same claims in 2008 and cleared Byrd of any wrongdoing, but allegations reemerged during the recent arbitration.

Convicted local drug-trafficking suspects, including Debria “Ney-Ney” Beverly, who said she dated Byrd for four years, testified that Byrd assisted them in eluding police. One time, Beverly said, Byrd warned her that police were about to raid a Titus Street residence where she was staying, thus allowing her to flee to Philadelphia, according to the documents. Beverly said that Byrd met her on multiple occasions in his police vehicle to hold drugs for her during the day before returning them to her at night.

Beverly said that she is confident that the assistance she received from Byrd and another unidentified officer, “Mo,” allowed her to deal drugs for years without consequences, according to court documents.

At last July’s arbitration hearing, Officer Bob Brotherton testified that suspicions about Byrd hampered IPD’s efforts during drug cases. He said superiors started to “wait until the the last minute” before informing officers about warrants and investigations, the documents state.

Byrd said he was unaware of the allegations until last July, about three years after several officers claimed they first notified their supervisors of their suspicions. IPD Chief Ed Vallely said he is “confident that Lt. Byrd’s name will once again be cleared,” according to The Journal.

Myrick said he hopes to maintain a positive relationship with IPD throughout the investigation.

“We must get the facts straight,” he said. “And we must stand by those members of our police department who loyally serve the city. I fully intend to do both.”

Original Author: Quintin Schwab