Photos: South Hill SWAT Call

Categories Ithaca, Law Enforcement

Words & Photos by Josh Brokaw

This reporter doesn’t make a habit of listening to the scanner and going to emergency calls — the bleeps and bloops followed by terse reports of sad happenings have a shake-making effect on your correspondent, like the reaction of everyone but the most hardened caffeine addict to a quadruple espresso shot from one of our local coffee purveyors. Generally, police and fire reports are well-covered in Ithaca’s media anyways; why be redundant? It’s not like clicks make TruthSayers any money — we’re entirely reliant on the donations of readers like you, my partner paying the rent, and my willingness to ignore calls from Navient while taking a wry delight in the deterioration of my credit score.

But occasionally, when one opens up the Twitter and sees a policeman outfitted like the one below on South Hill, a few steps away from our office at the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, it seems prudent to go out and check up on what a SWAT call looks like. TruthSayers readers were quite interested earlier this year in what gear our local SWAT team buys with federal funds.

Read More TruthSayers: Shopping List: Ithaca SWAT Buying Gear with Federal Funds

Ithaca Council: Federal $$ for SWAT Equipment Approved

How Ithaca Can Arrest Fewer People: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

Fortunately, the SWAT call yesterday didn’t end in tragedy. This reporter arrived at the south end of the blockade, manned by a Cornell University PD officer, around 2:30 p.m. The subject of the search was being escorted into an IPD cruiser about that time, as best this reporter could see through a Sony mirrorless camera equipped with a 135 mm Pentax manual focus lens.

According to a neighbor of 521 Hudson Street, who had some explanation from police, a girlfriend was at the property when the subject, one Mr. Blackman, arrived, and she called the police on Mr. Blackman, who was wanted on a drug possession charge. The homeowner was not home. According to the official report, reproduced below, Mr. Blackman “barricaded” himself in a bedroom and refused to talk with any officers, leading to the SWAT team being called out.

Police on site weren’t particularly pleased with this reporter cutting through the South Hill Elementary parking lot to grab a couple photos, but I surmised that if parents with children were walking through the elementary school’s Hudson Street lot and the subject had already been escorted into a police vehicle, the danger was over.

SWAT team and other police personnel at 521 Hudson Street, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers
SWAT team and other police personnel at 521 Hudson Street, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers

The SWAT truck and a Humvee that this reporter, along with Jolene Almendarez of the Ithaca Voice, had not seen before, were staged along with several patrol cars further up Hudson Street in the entrance to Pearsall Place.

SWAT team and other police personnel at Pearsall Place, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers
Deputy Chief Vincent Monticello speaking with a citizen at Pearsall Place & Hudson Street, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers


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SWAT team and other police personnel at Pearsall Place, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers
SWAT Humvee taking off into the sun on Hudson Street, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers
The SWAT team walks up Hudson Street after a call, Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers

The Voice has much clearer photos of the SWAT team walking up the hill; there you can see them walking the treaded robot like my grandparents walk their Shih Tzus. The equipment I had not seen before is that big old tube held by the man at the back of this pack – any readers have an idea what that big son of a gun is?

A few minutes after the SWAT team and other police personnel left the scene, before the SWAT truck was even rolling downhill, a handyman was putting door hardware back into the apartment’s front door.

521 Hudson Street a few minutes after police left a SWAT call on Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers
Ithaca/Tompkins County SWAT truck rolling down South Hill. Monday, November 27, 2017. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers


Here’s the official public report sent out by the Ithaca Police Department at 4:36 p.m. on Monday.

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Josh Brokaw is an independent reporter based in Ithaca, N.Y.

Email with tips, story suggestions, and gentle criticism.

Twitter: @jdbrokaw

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