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Legislature Approves Pursuit of Funding for Law Enforcement Consolidation Study

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Legislature Approves Pursuit of Funding for Law Enforcement Consolidation Study

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Tompkins County Legislature, by a vote of 10-2 (Legislators Mike Sigler and Dooley voted no), authorized the County, jointly with the City of Ithaca, to pursue a State-funded study to examine the potential feasibility of consolidation of City and County law enforcement agencies. The action, which has also been approved by the City of Ithaca Common Council, authorizes the two governments to jointly apply for funding to support the study, and to develop a request for proposals to seek expert consultant to assist with the study. The measure notes that, “as a result of years of cooperation and previous successful consolidation efforts, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County are especially well positioned to achieve efficiencies through the consolidation of further shared services between the City of Ithaca Police Department and the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office,” and that the State has encouraged consolidation and shared services, and has established various grant funds, including a $150 million allocation Governor’s Municipal Restructuring Fund in this year’s State budget, to support such efforts.

Legislator Sigler said he opposes the initiative, since he does not see that any such an arrangement would benefit Tompkins County, and he said he doubts that the Town of Lansing, which he represents, would support it. Legislator Kiefer said her opposition stems from the fact that the measure does not address mention establishing a County Department of Public Safety as an option, without reference to the City. Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne cautioned that any effort should proceed carefully and consider all options.

Assuring that there are no foregone conclusions, Legislature Chair Mike Lane said, “What we are doing now is applying for money from New York State…to see if we can qualify and take a look at this feasibility study…I support this, because it’s time…Individuals may have strong opinions about what should happen, (but) as a body there is no drift, there is no plan, there is no agenda.”