WHITE PLAINS – Westchester District Attorney Miriam Rocah Friday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Mount Vernon Police Department for “pervasive and persistent” alleged civil rights violations including unlawful strip searches, excessive use of force, and other misconduct.
“The Westchester District Attorney’s Office is engaged in ongoing criminal investigations of certain individual MVPD police officers,” Rocah said. “In the course of those investigations, based largely on publicly available information, we have found disturbing allegations of patterns of inappropriate and potentially unlawful conduct by several former and current members of the MVPD. We have provided information that we gathered in this respect to DOJ.”
Rocah said while her criminal investigations of individual officers continue, she is asking the DOJ to “scrutinize the MVPD’s operations, training and policies to determine whether the MVPD is systematically violating peoples’ civil rights and, if so, to take action to address these matters.”
“Since taking office in January, 2020 my mandate has been transformation and accountability across city agencies including the police department. We are working hard to dismantle systemic issues and reform policing to ensure that our community is a safe place for all,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. “Our administration referred multiple cases to the district attorney for review and welcome DA Rocah’s request that DOJ add its resources to identify and address these issues for the benefit of our community.”
Rocah said that a DOJ investigation would focus on broader issues of civil rather than criminal law, which do not typically fall under the purview of the DA’s Office.