First Responders

Justice Department Opens Civil Rights Probe of Mount Vernon Police Department

December 4, 2021Carl Prine
Mount Vernon police

Federal investigators have opened a civil rights probe into New York’s Mount Vernon Police Department. Mount Vernon Police Department photo.

Federal investigators have opened a civil rights probe into the Mount Vernon Police Department, the law enforcement agency that serves a mostly-Black community in the New York City suburb north of the Bronx.

Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, announced Friday morning that their investigation would assess whether the law enforcement agency has engaged in a pattern of discriminatory policing.

Investigators also will determine how well the department handles evidence and whether Mount Vernon Police officers misuse force, strip searches, and body cavity searches, according to the announcement. Other issues to be reviewed include how well the police department takes citizens’ complaints, investigates allegations, and disciplines personnel.

“Police officers have tough jobs, and so many do their work honorably, lawfully, and with distinction, respecting the rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect,” Williams said in the announcement. “But when officers break the law, they violate their oath and undermine a community’s trust.”

Mount Vernon Police
Federal investigators have opened a civil rights probe into New York’s Mount Vernon Police Department. Mount Vernon Police Department photo.

The federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 bans state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal statutes.

Justice Department officials said they’d alerted Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Police Chief Marcel Olifiers, City Council President Marcus A. Griffith, Commissioner of Public Safety Glenn Scott, and Corporation Counsel Brian Johnson about the investigation.

Friday afternoon, Olifiers’ department told Coffee or Die Magazine that Olifiers was unavailable for comment. City Hall officials did not respond to Coffee or Die’s messages seeking comment.

Read next: Corrupt Correctional Officer Busted for Bribes, Drug Smuggling

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
father's day
Father’s Day Gift Guide: Don’t Disappoint Your Dad … Again

It’s less than two weeks until Father’s Day, and last-minute gifts for Dad are harder to come by tha...

space force
Air Force Picks Colorado For More Space Force Missions

The Air Force announced the permanent location for many more U.S. Space Force units Wednesday — and ...

Curtis LeMay
Curtis LeMay: The World War II General Who Firebombed Japan

Who exactly was Gen. Curtis LeMay? And how did he become the commander who razed more than 60 Japanese cities during World War II?

eric smith marine corps commandant nominee
Highly Decorated Marine Officer Nominated To Be Next Commandant

President Joe Biden has nominated a highly decorated Marine officer who has been involved in the transformation of the force to be the next Marine Corps commandant.

USS Arizona
Profile of a Ship: USS Arizona

When the USS Arizona sank, it took 1,177 crew members with it. Today it remains beneath the water as a memorial to all those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

b1 bombers bosnia
US Bombers Fly Over Bosnia in Sign of Support Amid Continued Secessionist Threats

A pair of U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew low over Sarajevo and several other Bosnian cities...

SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird: The Spy Plane That Could Outrun Missiles

Lockheed Martin’s SR-71 Blackbird was a government secret for years. Now retired, a newer version plans to take its place.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved