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Ithaca Police Issue Report on Controversial Stop

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Ithaca Police Issue Report on Controversial Stop
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ITHACA, N.Y. -- The city of Ithaca has released its findings from the internal investigation of a controversial stop.

The incident back on August 10, sparked public debate after a white police officer drew his gun on African-American teens.

One of two investigations into the encounter between this officer and the teens is complete.

This incident came to light after at least one parent claimed the stop was racially motivated. Back on August 9, Ithaca police were investigating a burglary and two arsons when, according to police reports, officers witnessed a group of people repeatedly ride bicycles past the scene of the arson.

Officers were instructed to stop and question them, noting that arsonists often return to the scene of the crime. Police said when they turned on their lights, the bicyclists fled.

An off-duty sergeant who was called in to help with the investigation located the individuals and instructed them to stop. Police said he was in his personal vehicle and not in uniform, but did identify himself as an officer.

The sergeant unholstered his weapon, the report says, and ordered the suspects to lie on the ground while he waited for other officers to arrive.

The suspects turned out to be underage. Their backpacks were searched and they were turned over to their parents.

The city's internal review did not find race-based motivation for the stop, however, they noted that the youth involved declined to participate in the investigation.

The report also found that the sergeant unholstering his weapon after a chase did not violate police policy.

However, the report did identify a need for officers to wear an outer garment identifying them as police officers when they're at a crime scene, and that will be a modification to current policy.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick also released his plan Monday night for changes in policing:

Purchasing cameras to be worn on police uniforms and mounted in patrol cars.
Requiring new hires to the department to be city residents.
Allowing the police chief to implement the Community Action Team he's requested to be out on the streets in addition to usual patrols.
Adding a downtown outreach social worker.
Opening a west end district office for the IPD.

On top of those measures, Myrick promised a full review of police policies and procedures, improved community outreach and a ten percent increase in police staffing, which is a complete 180 degree change from the years of cutbacks to the department.

There is a separate investigation underway by the Community Police Board, an outside agency that acts as a liaison between the police department and community members.

There's no word yet on when that report will be out.

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