Several Ithaca residents attended a meeting at city hall Wednesday to voice concerns over a federal homeland security grant that would fund equipment for the Ithaca Police Department’s SWAT Team.
But the underlying theme for residents and some lawmakers was concern over an incident earlier this month in which an Ithaca police sergeant drew his firearm on a group of teenagers.
Last week, Ithaca Police announced their department would launch an internal investigation into that incident. A second investigation will be done by the city’s community police board.
Ithaca resident Neil Oolie said he believed the sergeant’s decision to draw his firearm that night was a result of police training.
“A lot of people think that it’s an isolated thing. I do not,” Oolie said. “I think that it’s part of a pattern, and that pattern includes the training that our officers receive.”
Ithaca city councilman J.R. Clairborne weighed in on the incident during Wednesday night’s meeting.
“I think that when we have people being afraid of our police, that is not a good thing,” he said. “If you’re doing something bad, then you’re supposed to be. But if you’re not doing anything bad, you should not be afraid of the police.”
Some residents suggested moving next month’s common council meeting to a larger venue to accommodate the hundreds of people expected to attend.
Organizers have planned a protest ahead of next month’s common council meeting.