Ithaca Police Chief John Barber to retire; sends letter making announcement

After working nearly 30 years in law enforcement, I have decided to hang up my duty belt and retire early next
year. My last work day will be Thursday March 9th, 2017. As I’ve reflected on my career, I thought I’d take a
look back over the years and share some of my experiences.

In 1989 I began my career in law enforcement as a NYS Corrections officer attending the Harriman Training
Academy and then worked at three different state prisons – Green Haven, Cayuga Correctional, and Albion
Correctional Facilities. In April of 1994 I was hired by Chief Harlin McEwen at the Ithaca Police Department
where I have remained ever since. The IPD has given me so many great opportunities for learning
and advancement, including:

1994 Hired and attended the Broome County Police Academy
1998 Selected for SWAT
1999 Promoted to Sergeant
2000 Appointed SWAT Commander and remained until retiring in December of 2010
2004 Transferred to Sergeant of the Special Investigations Unit
2005 Promoted to Lieutenant
2005 Appointed as the Recruitment Team Chairman
2006 Attended & graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico
2006 Appointed as Acting Deputy Chief
2007 Appointed to Deputy Chief
2012 Appointed Acting Chief of Police
2013 Appointed as Chief of Police
2017 March of 2017 – Retired!!

Through teamwork and hard work here at the IPD, coupled with a progressive mindset, we have been able to
accomplish many positive changes. The following are a few examples of what we’ve done as an agency (in no
particular order):

  • Nationally recognized SWAT Team and recently became only one of eight NYS certified SWAT teams.
  • Under SWAT leadership of Lieutenant Young we obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in tactical
    grants.
  • In 2009 we purchased a new Mobile Command vehicle that was designed by our members.
  • Funded and built a new garage across from the IPD for the Mobile Command Unit.
  • First ever “show and tell” for Common Council of the SWAT and CINT teams.
  • New SIMS building at the IPD range.
  • Restructured the IPD organization and created a Deputy Chief of Professional Standards along
    with Operations and Technical Sergeant positions.
  • Purchased and equipped a Mobile Training trailer.
  • Fully outfitted a four wheeler utility vehicle with trailer.
  • Brought back the K-9 program – with 2 new dogs and handlers.
  • Reestablished the Police Explorer Program for our youth.
  • IPD Training Unit now conducts physical fitness testing for police applicants to establish the police
    officer certified eligible lists.
  • Purchased and implemented the Body Worn Camera program.
  • Purchased decibel meters and trained personnel in their use.
  • Created the Officer Next Door Program – 2 officers living in the program zone.
  • Extensive Community Outreach with a marked improvement in community relations and our
    overall image – an effort noticed by the White House.
  • Coffee with the Mayor and Chief (two separate series).
  • Organized and hosted two community and police barbecues.
  • “Monthly Meeting With The Chief” with community members to discuss issues in our community.
  • Numerous one-on-one “meet & greet” sessions with activists and stakeholders in our community.
  • Held the first ever IPD Open House with tours of our facilities.
  • Opened the West End District Office.
  • Formed a solid relationship with the ICSD leadership. IPD officers are now welcomed in our schools
    anytime, a marked change in philosophy from ICSD educators.
  • Formed solid relationships with our media partners who are highlighting the fine policework we do in
    this community.
  • Improved inter-agency cooperation with police departments in the region.
  • Hired a new accountant and modernized our accounting practices.
  • All officers are trained in the use of NARCAN & tourniquets.
  • Adopted the motto of “Professionalism” which guides everything we do.
  • Improved the Field Training Officer program for our new officers, increasing the standards to include
    400 hours of training for laterals and 540 hours for new hires.
  • Professional identification cards for officers and civilians.
  • Drastically improved the vetting process for new police officers. I’ve hired 26 new officers (four of
    these officers have since departed for various reasons).
  • Promoted 14 of the 16 supervisory officers – to include placing key talent in appropriate positions.
  • Formed an Honor Guard Unit – which will be fully equipped from a local grant we recently received.
  • Re-established the Citizens Police Academy, just completing its second session.
  • In the process of implementing a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Team.
  • Successfully defended our SWAT and training budgets over numerous years.
  • Gained two additional funded positions for the Community Action Team which will be formed in 2017.
  • Formed a Peer Support Team which will be fully functional in 2017.
  • Last but not least – we have adopted a very sick little 9-year old boy as our own named Colin Hayward
    Toland who became an honorary IPD officer. Officer Colin has brought extended joy to our agency.

I want to thank all Ithaca Police Department police officers, past and present, for their dedicated service to the IPD and to our community. I have certainly enjoyed serving this great city alongside the fine men and women of this agency. They are all a part of my extended family. Please continue to offer your support to the men and women in blue and take a moment to thank a police officer. They work and train extremely hard to provide you a superior level of police services.

My sincerest appreciation and gratitude is extended to Mayor Svante Myrick, Common Council, the Community Police Board, multiple community organizations, and all local law enforcement agencies with whom I have worked with over the years. I admire your service and dedication to our community, and value the relationships we have built as we all work towards making the City of Ithaca the best small city in the U.S.A.!

Lastly, I’d like to thank my children, Ashley, Mercedes, and Michael, and my significant other, Vanessa. Many thanks to the Ithaca community for their continued support of myself and the men and women of the IPD. I feel fortunate to have worked in such a progressive city full of amazing people.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your Chief. I am enthusiastically looking forward to the next exciting chapter of my life!

The following was a letter written by Chief Barber, who announced his retirement on Monday.