EDITORIAL — The Ithaca Police Department has once again called a press conference limited only to media with “press credentials.” First, in August, the IPD announced a credentialed-only news conference following the West State St. shooting of an officer that left a mentally-troubled resident dead. Now the department wants to talk about solving a 34-year-old homicide case to only “credentialed” journalists. The problem: the IPD isn’t talking about what qualifies as “credentials.”
Despite the overhaul of the City of Ithaca website, the Ithaca Police Department’s online presence doesn’t include its policy or application for press credentialing. They might take the step of the New York City Police Department, which has both its police and application available. So far, Ithaca Police Chief Edward Vallely nor Deputy Chief Pete Tyler have responded. According to the NYPD, credentials are provided to any journalist “who covers, in person, emergency, spot or breaking news events and/or public events of a non-emergency nature, where police, fire lines or other restrictions, limitations, or barriers established by the City of New York have been set up for security or crowd control purposes, within the City of New York; or covers, in person, events sponsored by the City of New York which are open to members of the press.” To obtain NYPD press credentials, journalists need only submit “one or more articles, commentaries, books, photographs, videos, films or audios published or broadcast within the twenty–four (24) months immediately preceding the Press Card application, sufficient to show that the applicant covered in person six (6) or more events occurring on separate days.” Notice there is no classification of media as print, television and radio. The department removed that wording following a 2008 lawsuit won by an independent online journalist. So, the question becomes: why can’t the IPD develop an equally straight-forward policy toward the media? After all, the NYPD has more than 34,000 officers — many more than the Ithaca Police Department.