Dennis Nayor

Police Chief Dennis Nayor speaks with Mayor Svante Myrick. 

UPDATE: Wednesday night, Common Council approved Mayor Svante Myrick's selection of Dennis Nayor as Chief of Police for the Ithaca Police Department. The vote was unanimous. 

Original story: According to a press release from the City of Ithaca, Mayor Svante Myrick announced that he has selected Acting Police Chief Dennis R. Nayor to have the interim tag removed and become the permanent chief of police. 

“The Police Chief Search Committee, which included former Police Chief John Barber, has done an excellent and thorough job, vetting and interviewing both internal and external candidates. They narrowed the field to two extraordinarily qualified candidates and it's my pleasure to nominate one of them - Acting Chief Dennis Nayor - to be our next permanent Chief of Police. AC Nayor has proven his enthusiasm, commitment, and professionalism are peerless and I have the utmost confidence in him,” Myrick said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Myrick went into more depth in a statement on his Facebook page

"Dennis Nayor is an exemplary officer with a proven history of progressive, inclusive policing. I'm convinced he is the best person to lead our department into the future," he wrote there. 

Nayor has been the presumptive, but not official, choice for the permanent job for a while, as he was "handpicked" by former police chief Pete Tyler to serve as deputy chief last year after serving as the police chief of the Oneonta Police Department. Nayor resigned from the Oneonta department in late 2016 after four years at the helm to serve as Director of Research, Development and Training with the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police before coming to Ithaca. Tyler retired in May and Nayor was given the acting police chief job at that time.  

In an interview with the Ithaca Times, Nayor said he was honored to have been chosen for the job and wanted to maintain the philosophy of open communication he has tried to foster since stepping into the acting role. 

"I think Ithaca is a great city, and the Ithaca Police Department is a great department and I'm proud to have the opportunity to take the department to the next level," Nayor said. "We have plenty of challenges ahead, as do police across the nation, and I look forward to helping the department meet those challenges and bridging gaps between us and wherever there may be one in the community."

Nayor's pemanent appointment comes at a time of some turmoil for IPD, just as in May when he became the acting chief. At that time, videos of the arrests of Rose de Groat and Cadji Ferguson on the Commons were making waves and angering community members who felt the police's conduct in the videos was unnecessarily hostile and harmful. Ferguson was recently acquitted of his charges stemming from the incident, while de Groat is now scheduled for a November trial. After an internal review, it was decided there would be no additional punishment for the officers involved in the incident, though Myrick offered a public apology for the arrests. 

Plus, there's been a constant tension between police and the city administration resulting from the lack of a new labor contract for several years between the City of Ithaca and the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association, the local police union. Nayor said he didn't want to speak directly on either situation, but would say generally that he's interested in improving the department and keep building a relationship with the public. 

"I look forward to always looking for ways we can improve and evolve," Nayor said, citing his oft-noted Peel Principles of policing that he faithfully subscribes to. "'The public are the police, and the police are the public,' and that we all work together and that's huge. What we do is based upon public approval, and my focus is to work to continue to build legitimacy and trust in what we do."

Contacted for comment, Public Safety and Information Commission Chair Aryeal Jackson commended the Nayor selection. 

"I’ve had multiple opportunities to interact with Acting Chief Nayor," Jackson wrote. "I’ve appreciated his candor and dedication to transparency and interagency cooperation. He shared his emphasis on 21st century policing with our commission which, if implemented, will be a huge benefit to Ithaca. I look forward to seeing how he navigates the department at this complicated time in order to keep all Ithacans safe."

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