Damian Williams, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), along with Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, today announced that the Department of Justice Justice has opened an investigation into the model or practice of Mount Vernon Police Department (MVPD). The investigation will assess whether the MVPD engages in a discriminatory policing model or practice. The investigation will also assess the MVPD’s use of force, strip searches and body searches, and how he handles evidence. As part of the investigation, SDNY and the Civil Rights Division will conduct a comprehensive review of MVPD’s accountability systems, including complaint receipt, investigation, review, disposition and discipline. The SDNY and the Civil Rights Division will also contact community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with the MVPD.
US Attorney Damian Williams said, “Police officers have tough jobs, and many do their jobs honorably, legally and with distinction, respecting the rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect. But when agents break the law, they break their oath and undermine a community’s trust. We ask anyone with information relevant to the Mount Vernon Police Department investigation to contact the Department of Justice by email at [email protected] or to call (866) 985-1378.
Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said: “An efficient and accountable police service is the hallmark of a healthy and well-functioning democracy. The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that law enforcement agencies across our country use their authority in a constitutional, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.
This morning, SDNY and Civil Rights Division officials briefed Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, MVPD Chief Marcel Olifiers, City Council Chairman Marcus A. Griffith, Security Commissioner public Glenn Scott and company lawyer Brian Johnson of the investigation.
The investigation is being conducted in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in any conduct or practice by law enforcement officials. law and order that deprive individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law. The Act allows the Department of Justice to remedy such misconduct through civil proceedings. The SDNY and the Civil Rights Division will assess law enforcement practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Civil Rights Unit in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC, are jointly conducting this investigation. Those with relevant information are invited to contact the Ministry of Justice by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (866) 985-1378. Individuals can also report civil rights violations relating to this or other matter by using the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal, available at civilrights.justice.gov.
Additional information about the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is available on its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the Division’s police reform work is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt and to https://www.justice.gov/crt/file/922421/download.