ITHACA, N.Y.—Public Safety Committee members tabled a resolution from the Reimagining Public Safety effort that would make data on arrests, prosecutions and case outcomes easily available due to splintered concern about the public’s ability to put that data into context. 

Tompkins County Legislator and Chair of the Public Safety Committee Rich John suggested legislators “take more time” with the resolution to include more data before sending it through for a final vote at the next regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 5.

This means the resolution will not be voted on until it is approved by the committee at their next meeting on Sept. 21. If approved, the resolution won’t be brought to the legislature for approval until its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3. 

The resolution is one of 19 recommendations laid out and agreed upon by the county and the city in the “Public Safety, Reimagined” report accepted by state legislators in 2021. 

The report was introduced in 2021 through a process led by former mayor Svante Myrick and former Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino, with other city and county officials, in response to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which tasked local governments to create plans to address widespread distrust amongst law enforcement and minority communities. 

John adamantly opposed sending the resolution onto a vote as written because he said was concerned about releasing “limited data ” to the public, fearing it could be “interpreted in a way that would be unfair” to police officers in the community.

He said releasing only arrest data, without context, could lead the public to draw conclusions about the “impact of race in policing that may or may not be accurate.”

Additional data on traffic stops, incident reports and calls, he said, would give the public a more complete look at law enforcement in the county. 

Nationally, according to John, “there’s a real concern that people of color are far more victims of crime than white people.” He said he thinks the public should know whether or not that is happening in the community. 

Legislator Anne Koreman suggested the committee vote to approve the resolution as written to keep the process moving, with an expectation there will be more data gathered and chosen to disclose that will provide a full picture of law enforcement in the county. 

Koreman said allowing the committee to determine what data sets people need or want to have available to them is contradictory to creating the working group in the first place. 

“We were looking at trying to hear from the people that were most impacted to see what they needed first,” Koreman said. “Most of the people who are sitting at this table are white, and probably haven’t had a lot of interaction with law enforcement.” 

She said committee members need to listen to what members of the working group decided was important to include instead of suggesting it knows best. 

“They’re saying this is what they need first,” Koreman said. “We can add more datasets and more information [later], but I don’t think it’s going to hurt to move forward.” 

Tompkins County Communication Director Dominick Recckio facilitated the working group from the jump, and said during the meeting that the process of selecting these particular data points to disclose to the public was carefully considered.

Outside voices of community members, local non-profit representatives, law enforcement from the state and the city, Tompkins County District Attorney Matthew Van Houten and the public were heard throughout the process of selecting the datasets to share publicly, which started in 2022. 

Members of the group scored each data point individually on a rubric to determine whether or not the data sets would help the public understand disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system, according to a presentation created by the group. 

Recckio said the data sets that scored above a certain threshold were included in the resolution. In an interview after the meeting, he said next steps for him and the working group include addressing John’s questions.

Data collection, analysis, and ultimately disclosure, is a tool for county and city officials to move forward with changes outlined in the reimagining public safety plan. For this reason, Recckio said there is more data collection to go. 

He said “the intention stated in the original Reimagining Public Safety plan, and what was approved by the legislature, is being able to put this kind of data and information out there that allows people to draw conclusions.” 

Legislator Lee Shurtleft said he “thoroughly agreed” to table the resolution because arrest data alone is “not adequate for [us] to have a fair evaluation” of the current policing climate in Tompkins County. 

“One of our objectives here is fair policing,” Shurtleft said. “ And I don’t know how we get to a solid answer as to how well policing is being done unless we see an expansion of the data that’s being collected.” 

Judy Lucas is a General Assignment Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Have a story idea? Comment or question? You can reach me at or on Twitter @judy__lucas.