MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon Police are encouraging people to come forward if they see violence in their neighborhoods, rather than ignore the problem.
“We need to get killers off the streets and remove threats of violence in the community,” said Detective David Clark of the Mount Vernon Police Department’s Gang Unit. “There could be 50 people outside taking cell phones pictures but when the police show up no one says anything.”
Clark said that part of the problem is with “snitching.” He said people are either afraid to call the police or have become complacent. Clark, whose brother was murdered in Mount Vernon years ago, said that snitching is between two individuals engaged in criminal activity together, not the entire community.
“When we have homicides there are people who know what happened but don’t disclose information,” Clark said. “I know everyone has a trust issue with the police but from my experiences, I’m a victim.”
Clark said that residents need to stop being fearful and stand up when they see something. Clark said that if enough people are willing to take the stand in a court of law, it sends a strong message to the community that they will not tolerate violent behavior.
“Murder is the only charge where you need to have a living witness testify to what went on,” Clark said. “There is no hearsay. If this happens in Pelham or Bronxville people will testify. If not, it becomes the norm that people won’t get involved and become numb to murder.”
Still, putting the “bad guys” away is only part of a police officer’s job. Clark said that police officers are the ones who have to notify family members that their son, daughter or cousin was murdered.
“That’s my job and it doesn’t stop,” Clark said. “I need to be out where the crime occurred and speak with people on the street.”