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After a string of recent violent crimes, Ithaca police stepping up patrols downtown

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Downtown Ithaca.

Several recent violent crimes in downtown Ithaca have prompted a reaction from the Ithaca Police Department. The crimes are uncommon for the city.

In the past, Ithaca has been recognized as one of the safest small cities in America. That’s why Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said any amount of violence in the area becomes front page news.

“We went five years in a row without a single homicide," Myrick said. "It’s very rare for us to even have a shooting. It’s once every couple years. To have two robberies and one shooting in the span of three weeks is very abnormal for us. Reacting is good but we like to be proactive. For the rest of the spring and into the summer, we're going to increase our presence downtown."

A woman had her wallet forcibly grabbed from her hand. An elderly woman was robbed on Easter. And what officials think started as a bar fight, led to a shooting at the upscale Ithaca Commons area. The victim’s injury was non-life-threatening and Public Information Officer Jamie Williamson with the Ithaca Police Department said police apprehended the suspect within minutes.

“They heard the shots fired and if the shooter had gone one way, he ran east on the Commons, if he were to have run west on the Commons, he would have ran right into the police officers, just like you see in the movies,” Williamson said.

A larger presence downtown means more officers, in uniform and plain clothes, and more patrols on foot and bike.

“Especially in our downtown area," Williamson said. "The Commons area is the economic and social hub for the city of Ithaca. When we see those types of violent crimes in a short period of time, they absolutely raise our awareness and shock us that they occur.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.