MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Although many Mount Vernon residents have lost faith in their local government, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino believes if the county can help the city reduce crime, those feelings can be assuaged.
Astorino said the “Mutual Aid Program,” a joint task force between the county and Mount Vernon police departments was just one way his office could begin helping the city.
The task force, which was commissioned by Astorino and Mayor Ernest Davis has made more than 150 arrests, including 28 felonies. In July, it made a sizable bust in the city, seizing 14 pounds of marijuana near the Mount Vernon-Bronx border.
“We partnered with the community, policing this summer. County police officers were assigned, both uniformed and undercover, in the city to work with city police officers to go into hot spots,” Astorino said. “Guns taken off the street to make that community much safer, and it was. That was Mayor Davis and I working together. Agencies under one common goal working together. The public is the beneficiary of that.”
According to Astorino, once Mount Vernon residents see the city becoming a safer place, their faith in their elected officials can begin to renew. He has participated in similar initiatives in North Salem, Somers and Ossining.
“These are people who are off the street,” he said. “That’s making it safer and that’s the county working with the city, especially during the summer, to rid some of our hot spots of the bad elements that are making our streets and communities unsafe.”
In Ossining, Astorino said the county was able to assume all policing duties in the town, ridding taxpayers of all the costs that are related to operating a police department. This move will save Ossining $1 million annually.
“This is a new model looking forward,” he added. “We’re in discussion with other communities about doing things like that. Our goal was to change the model, and I think we've done that.”
Despite the seemingly safer streets, Mount Vernon residents continue to cry corruption, saying Davis and certain members of the city council are only in government to benefit themselves. Davis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“We need to wipe the slate clean and get a whole new group to run the city,” Fulton Avenue resident Jim Erikkson said Wednesday. “They’re busy lining their pockets while the rest of us are left to suffer.”