April 29, 2013

Violence in Ithaca Sparks ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Police Patrols

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After seeing a surge in stabbings, shootings and other attacks on West Hill, the City of Ithaca deployed specialized, “zero-tolerance” police patrols to the area to curb the violence, the Ithaca Police Department said Monday.

The move comes on the heels of multiple, unresolved acts of violence in the city. In the last week, a man was shot while walking to his home, another man was stabbed in the neck and a 17-year-old was stabbed during a fight over the weekend.

Although the three incidents appear to be separate from each other and appear not to be random acts of violence, police say they have one common theme: all three victims have refused to cooperate with police, according to a statement released by IPD.

The 35-year-old man stabbed Saturday reportedly walked out of the hospital he had been transported to against medical advice and refused to identify his attacker to police, according to the statement. In a replay of Saturday’s events, the 17-year-old stabbed Sunday also refused to identify his attacker.

Witnesses also refused to cooperate with police. The large group of people who were reportedly present when the 17-year-old was attacked told police they did not see anything, according to the statement.

The silence among victims and witnesses has “stifled” investigators as they seek to find evidence and pursue prosecution, the statement said.

Condemning the attacks as “senseless acts of violence,” Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and John Barber, acting police chief of the IPD, urged the public to release any information they have to police. In a joint statement, the two officials said city residents can leave anonymous tips if they do not want to speak to police officers.

“Mayor Myrick and Acting Chief Barber both agree that regardless of what method you use to contact police, the underlying message is the same: help from the public will assist [IPD] in delivering the highest level of safety for our community,” the statement said.

As investigators look into the incidents, police will patrol the West Hill — the same area where a police officer was shot in the line of duty in October — in two-person teams, according to the statement.

Police officers have been “heavily encouraged” to interact with community residents as they patrol the area, the statement said, so they can gain the public’s confidence and help gather information about the attacks.

Calling the attacks “horrible acts of violence,” Barber said police will use all of their resources to propel investigations forward and protect city residents.

“We need officers on the street right now,” Barber said in a statement. “We’ll still do the specialized patrol on the West Hill in the coming months like we did last year, but right now, we need officers on the streets to stop these senseless acts of violence and to prevent future similar acts.”

Barber added that police would work “day in and day out” to help make the city a safe place for citizens to live and work in.

Myrick said all of the IPD and city’s resources are being used to address the violence. He urged city residents to help police both solve the crimes and prevent future attacks.

“Collectively, we can solve these crimes and help keep Ithaca a safe and beautiful place to live, work and grow,” Myrick said in the statement.

Original Author: Akane Otani