The Community Justice Center, a joint initiative between the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County tasked with implementing collaborative Reimagining Public Safety plans, has announced that work is commencing on the plan to promote and support holistic law enforcement officer wellness.
A working group including leadership from the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response, Tompkins County Whole Health, and the Ithaca Police Department has convened and will be reviewing ideas for wellness programming that could be offered. In addition to soliciting public ideas, the working group is issuing a survey to law enforcement personnel and dispatchers to gauge what has positive and negative impacts on wellness as well as what tools and programs may be beneficial if offered or bolstered.
A total of $75,000 has been committed by the City and County in 2023 to support the implementation of the plan once survey data is analyzed and program ideas are reviewed.
Community members can share ideas on how the County and City can promote and support the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of officers and first responders on the Reimagining Public Safety website.
Monalita Smiley, Project Director of the Community Justice Center stated, “Our community is best served when officers are at their best. Our ultimate goal is to develop programs that reduce stress and promote wellness so that our officers can perform their duties with clear minds and high levels of physical wellness.” Smiley continued, “This plan is under Reimagining Public Safety because we’ve seen too many times in this country examples of fatal outcomes and mistakes in part due to stress or anxiety.”
Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne stated, “We have excellent law enforcement officers in Tompkins County, it’s our goal to offer programs that will help them continue to operate at their best. I’m excited to see the ideas that come from our working group and the community, and I’m glad that our officers are able to share their experiences directly with the group and the CJC.”
Deb Mohlenhoff, Chief of Staff at the City of Ithaca stated, “It’s no secret that we have staffing level issues contributing negatively to the wellness of our IPD officers – while we work to address staffing issues I hope we can develop strong and meaningful wellness programs that help officers feel supported and give them the tools they need to be successful.”
Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Whole Health Commissioner stated, “It’s important that we look at the whole health of our first responders. I’m glad that we’re taking this issue seriously and I look forward to supporting programming that meets the needs of our first responders and community.”