Stemming from public input, feedback from focus groups and conversations with community members, the Ithaca Police Department and Tompkins Countty Sheriff’s Office have announced a handful of changes to the joint-jurisdictional teams, SWAT and CINT.
Both SWAT (special weapons and tactics team) and CINT (critical incident negotiations team) were born out of the death of IPD investigator Michael Padula in 1996 with the goal of being better prepared for a similar incident in the future. However, throughout the Reimagining Public Safety the SWAT truck in particular was brought up repeatedly when talking about militarization of police. According to a joint press release from IPD and the Sheriff’s Office, the below changes “continue on the path of evolving with best practices, as well as making sure our mission, image and values align with our communities’ expectations.”
Both teams will be renamed, with SWAT changing to Ithaca-Tompkins Specialized Response Team, and CINT changing to Ithaca-Tompkins Crisis Negotiation Team. The change went into effect on May 1. The newly named Ithaca-Tompkins Specialized Response Team will no longer serve no-knock search warrants solely for narcotics or drugs on any residence within any jursidiction.
Additionally, the SWAT truck (from here on out referred to as Truck 99), will be repainted. Currently, the truck is all black with the words “knock knock” above the front windshield. It is in the process of being repainted white, and according to the press release, new letter and decal design will be completed later this year “with the help and input from our community.” The goal is to create a professional design that “is welcoming and representative of what the mobile command truck is primarily used for.”
The weapons currently stored on Truck 99 will also be removed and stored elsewhere.
The last change outlined is an update to the uniform color and equipment. Officers serving on the specialized response team will look as similar to a uniformed office as possible, switching to a blue or black uniform rather than a camoflauge one whenever possible. Camoflauge uniforms will be reserved for times that specifically require such a uniform, such as an operation in a wooded area. The process of updating the uniform color is anticipated to be going and take place over the next 12 months.