Westchester DA Publicly Calls On DOJ To Investigate The Mount Vernon Police Department

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Westchester District Lawyer Mimi Rocah is publicly calling on the U.S. Division of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to probe the Mount Vernon Police Division for “pervasive and protracted alleged civil rights violations” together with extreme use of power, illegal strip searches, and different misconduct. 

The referral was primarily based, partially, on police misconduct allegations revealed in a year-long Gothamist/WNYC investigation into these allegations and lots of others associated to police corruption, Rocah mentioned. The sequence, which drew on hours of secret recordings captured by a police whistleblower, resulted within the Mount Vernon Police Division’s announcement that it had disbanded a narcotics unit on the middle of the accusations.

“The Westchester District Lawyer’s Workplace is engaged in ongoing felony investigations of sure particular person MVPD law enforcement officials,” DA Rocah mentioned. “In the middle of these investigations, primarily based largely on publicly obtainable info, now we have discovered disturbing allegations of patterns of inappropriate and probably illegal conduct by a number of former and present members of the MVPD. We’ve got supplied info that we gathered on this respect to DOJ.”

Rocah  was elected this 12 months, after operating on a platform of reform. She unseated  the incumbent District Lawyer whom she accused on the marketing campaign path of failing to confront the corruption allegations in Mount Vernon, which Gothamist/WNYC first made public final June. Her workplace is conducting its personal felony investigation, she mentioned, however a DOJ probe might give attention to broader patterns and practices of civil rights violations.

“Whereas our felony investigations of particular person officers proceed, we’re requesting that DOJ scrutinize the MVPD’s operations, coaching and insurance policies to find out whether or not the MVPD is systematically violating peoples’ civil rights and, if that’s the case, to take motion to deal with these issues,” DA Rocah continued.

Throughout the nation from Ferguson to Baltimore, Division of Justice probes have uncovered rampant police brutality and racial bias. Earlier this month, sooner or later after the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the homicide of George Floyd, newly put in U.S. Lawyer Common Merrick Garland introduced federal authorities would examine the Police Division there.

In an announcement, Mount Vernon’s Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard affirmed her administration’s dedication to police “transformation and accountability.” 

“Our administration referred a number of circumstances to the District Lawyer for evaluate and welcome DA Rocah’s request that DOJ add its sources to determine and deal with these points for the good thing about our group,” Patterson-Howard mentioned.

The announcement comes on the heels of a letter DA Rocah despatched to the Mount Police Division in March about strip and physique cavity searches of suspects which her workplace discovered regarding. Gothamist/WNYC beforehand printed footage of Mount Vernon police conducting such invasive searches, which prompted the division to announce the reassignment of a number of officers.  

“My concern arises not from a single, remoted criticism, however from plenty of them from 2012-20, making related allegations of sure law enforcement officials illegally or inappropriately conducting these extremely invasive searches with out the excessive authorized and/or factual predicate thresholds having been glad,” DA Rocah wrote on the time.

A U.S. Division of Justice spokesperson declined to touch upon the Westchester DA’s public name.

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