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    By Community For Community: City of Ithaca’s “Rebuilding Public Safety” Task Force

    Ithaca College senior Amir Tazi is the only Ithaca College student serving on the Ithaca’s “Reimagining Public Safety” task force. Tazi joins about 20 other community members bi-weekly to plan solutions to the safety needs of the Ithaca community.

    He received a call last February from Mayor Svante Myrick, inviting him to the task force after being highly recommended to him by educators and peers. His inspiration to join the task force is rooted in his belief that his perspective as a Black college student is valued.

    “Being a Black kid in college there are so many things I’ve lived through just to get here,” said Tazi. “I’ve watched my friends go through so much as well, and that’s why I feel my perspective is important. But the majority of our task force, and the people who should be in these rooms and having these meetings are people in the community. The citizens who are everyday people”

    Outside view of the Ithaca Police Department.
    Instating The Initiative
    Following the murder of George Floyd and the rise of Black Lives Matter Protests last year, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo instated an executive order that “all municipalities with police departments in New York State must adopt a plan for police reform and reinvention.”
    Last April, the City of Ithaca Common Council unanimously passed their “Reimagining Public Safety” plan, which had been undergoing development for several months prior, authorizing Mayor Svante Myrick to submit the new proposal.
    To begin taking steps towards action, the city created the “Reimagining Public Safety” task force, which is being led by former council member Eric Rosario. The group is designed to facilitate the implementation process, providing community insight.
    The initiatives website not only keeps the wider Ithaca community informed on the work the task force is doing, but allows them to be a part of the conversation. The site serves as a tool for the community to give input on specific plans, as well as make suggestions of your own.
    Amir Tazi attends task force zoom meetings from his home.
    Tazi spent some time in thoughtful consideration before committing to the task force. He wanted to make sure the values and ideas were authentic to community needs, and were to be an agent of real impact and change.
    “To be honest, I didn’t know at first whether to get involved or not. I was of the mindset that it could do good, but it also could do more harm to the communities they are trying to protect. Sometimes these initiatives can sort of seem to play a facade.”
    Tazi is a member of the “technology training, and equipment” subcommittee group on the task force. As a whole, the initiative is currently working through plans of implementing unarmed first responders in the new department, as well as developing a community healing plan to address trauma in the relationship between residents and the law.
    “My biggest hope is that there is some way for us to bridge the gap of understanding between communities of color within Ithaca and the Ithaca police department,” said Tazi. “Through that there are going to have to be a lot of changes with training, and equipment, and the way we think about emergency calls and the way we answer them.”
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    • J

      JTNov 4, 2021 at 4:30 pm

      Leah is an amazing journalist!! I love her writing style and the way she interviews her sources.