Ithaca Police Department Launches Online Community Dashboard to Increase Transparency

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ITHACA, NY (WSYR-TV) — When the city of Ithaca set out to reinvent public safety two years ago, building a better relationship between neighbors and police was a priority.

“Often we hear you know that we are not doing enough and that we need to do more and that we certainly have room for improvement, but it is also important that people understand the limits of our resources” , Acting Chief of Police John Joly said.

The department hopes to achieve this through a brand new online community dashboard, updated weekly to show the public when, where and what types of calls agents are answering.

The dashboard allows the public to see what types of calls IPDs are being dispatched to from the 911 center and compare them to what the call type was when agents arrived. Acting Chief Joly said sometimes what officers are sent to can end up being a very different type of call when they arrive on the scene.

The dashboard also shows what the call volume was like on a specific day and is searchable, allowing you to narrow your search to a particular month, shift, and beat zone.

“We wanted to be able to provide citizens with a window into what’s going on and what their tax dollars are paying.”

John Joly, Acting Chief of Police of Ithaca

The dashboard includes data from 2019 to date and even shows the location of each call. If officers responded to a business, that business is listed, if it is a house, the street name and block will be listed to protect citizens’ privacy. Another feature of the dashboard is the daily average of patroller responses. On average, four to five IPD officers respond to a scene, but Acting Chief Joly said it should be closer to six.

Low staffing levels have plagued the department for some time, Acting Chief Joly said 13 officer positions are currently vacant.

“We are really trying to increase the transparency, accountability and also the professionalism of the department and we try to meet all the recommendations that we can even if we are short-staffed and we are really short-staffed,” he said.

Acting Chief Joly hopes to add more data to the dashboard in the future, such as the use of strength numbers and demographics. For now, he hopes the scorecard can serve as a model for other police departments looking to increase transparency.

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