Mount Vernon Police face civil rights investigation for alleged discrimination – NBC New York

A New York City police department has been the subject of a federal civil rights investigation over concerns its officers may be involved in discriminatory police activity.

The Justice Department has launched a federal investigation, the fourth this year, into the Mount Vernon Police Department over concerns of unconstitutional conduct. The habit or practice investigation will examine allegations of wrongdoing which, if substantiated, will be published in a public report.

“The investigation we are announcing today will assess whether the Mount Vernon Police Department is engaging in discriminatory behavior, pointing to black residents for mistreatment,” US Attorney Damiam Williams said in Friday’s announcement.

A full review by investigators is expected to cover allegations that the department’s offices use excessive force, illegal searches and tampering with evidence. These allegations will also be examined from the perspective of police training, departmental policing, training and internal investigations at Mount Vernon.

“The police have a difficult job. Most of them do their jobs honorably, legally and with distinction, respecting the rights of those they have sworn to protect. But when the police break the law, they violate their oath and undermine the trust of the community, “said Williams.

Friday’s announcement, made jointly by the Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, followed numerous reports of illegal activity within the department. Investigators in the case hope to interview community groups and members of Mount Vernon.

Williams and Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke said the Mount Vernon Mayor and Police Commissioner have guaranteed their cooperation.

The Westchester District Attorney, who earlier this year called on the Justice Department to open an investigation, has come out in favor of the civil rights investigation.

“I commend the Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York for devoting substantial federal resources to the vigorous defense of civil rights laws through a thorough investigation into possible violations of civil liberties by the Department of Mount Vernon police, ”Miriam Rocah said in a statement. .

There is no timeline for the completion of the investigation.

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