ITHACA, N.Y.—The City of Ithaca announced its two finalists for the permanent chief of police position, as well as a meet-and-greet for the two candidates to meet community residents this week. 

John Poleway, the former police chief of the Larchmont Police Department in Larchmont, New York, and Thomas Kelly, a lieutenant in the City of Schenectady Police Department, were both selected as finalists to lead the Ithaca Police Department. 

The city’s announcement states the search produced seven candidates who were interviewed, with Poleway and Kelly then chosen as finalists from that group by the search committee. 

The pair will attend a meet-and-greet forum held at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. Like the search last year, the finalists were confidential until the city’s announcement Monday afternoon. Unlike last time, it does not appear the finalists will participate in individual Q&A sessions with community members. 

“Community input is valued,” the announcement reads. “Members of the Ithaca community are encouraged to attend the meet and greet, interact with the finalists, and ask questions. There will be an opportunity for all to provide feedback.”

Poleway was chief of the Larchmont Police Department from 2008 until his retirement at the end of 2021, when his contract was not renewed. In August 2022, it was reported Poleway was one of two finalists for the chief of police job in Hartford, Vermont, but problems with the other finalist seem to have ended the search process without selecting Poleway or the other candidate, according to reporting in VTDigger

Kelly has been with the Schenectady Police Department for over 20 years. In 2010, he survived a shotgun blast during a raid of a homicide suspect’s home. In 2021, having risen to the rank of lieutenant, Kelly was celebrated in Schenectady for completing FBI training. This training, as mentioned by him and his chief,  would help the department implement its police reform plan, which reportedly focused on officer wellness and community outreach. 

Further details about Poleway and Kelly were not disclosed by the city.

The announcement comes a year after the first search for a permanent police chief ended in disarray. Three finalists were picked at that time: Binghamton Police Captain Christopher Bracco, former Ithaca Police Department Lieutenant Scott Garin and then-acting Police Chief John Joly. 

Garin was chosen by the search committee at the time, according to sources, but Mayor Laura Lewis overruled the selection and tried to appoint Joly. After uproar from Common Council members proved they would not vote to approve the pick, Lewis withdrew the nomination and decided to restart the search. 

Joly has since taken an indefinite leave from the police department, succeeded in the position by current Acting Chief Ted Schwartz. In April, Joly notified the city of his intent to file a lawsuit over allegations of racial discrimination

Garin has not commented publicly since the first search ended.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at