Following their historic proposal to reimagine the Ithaca Police Department in March, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County both voted to fund the Community Justice Center. The center will facilitate the implementation of the recommendations previously agreed upon in the re-imagining policing proposal through community engagement.
The CJC funding proposal passed in a 12-2 vote in the Tompkins County Legislature on May 18, with the County providing $144,380 to set up the center as it begins operations and hires a director and program analyst in the coming weeks.
On June 2, the City of Ithaca followed in the footsteps of the Tompkins County Legislature, voting unanimously to approve the creation of the department and add $124,430 to its funds.
The CJC will consist of new staff members, including city and county employees who will work together to implement the 19 recommendations agreed upon by Ithaca and Tompkins County back in late March and early April.
According to the timeline presented in this meeting, the CJC will have a working staff and become a full part of the department by the end of October.
The CJC will play a managerial role in fulfilling the proposal’s nineteen recommendations. Some of the responsibilities of the new staff will include the creation of a new public safety department, training to better deal with calls related to mental illness while implementing other new transparency initiatives.
Richard John ’81 (D-4th District) emphasized the importance of establishing the CJC as an interface between the City and the County with a necessary part of coordination.
“This is really our first step on the promise we made back in March,” John said in the May 18 meeting.
In addition to the CJC, the City of Ithaca has been working to create the Reimaging Police Task Force, a group of 17 local members which will design the new department. According to George McGonigal (D-1st Ward), these members will include representatives from the Ithaca Common Council, the Ithaca Police Department and underserved communities in Tompkins County.
This will fulfill one of the proposal’s recommendations. The task force, once established, will have until Sept. 1 to submit their ideas on how to implement the other recommendations to the Common Council.
Leslie Schill MRP ’02 (D-2nd District) sees the Community Justice Center as the start of the reimagining portfolio that many constituents and local voices have been advocating for.
“I just want to say on behalf of District 2, how important this is to City residents,” Schill said in the May 18 meeting.“I think it’s a great first step.”