MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – A Mount Vernon politician is questioning the timing of an announcement made by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino regarding a partnership between the county and city police.
Lyndon Williams, the vice chairman for the Westchester County Board of Legislators expressed concern on Friday that the partnership – which includes increased patrols in the city by county personnel through the summer – is nothing more than a “political dog and pony show” during an election year.
“We have serious issues of gun violence here in Mount Vernon, where several young men recently have been killed or seriously injured,” he said. “I just don’t believe these tragedies should be used as political schemes designed to increase popularity and political support.”
On Thursday, Astorino announced a joint-effort between the Mount Vernon Police Department and Westchester County Department of Public Safety (DPS) to increase the number of patrols in the city through the summer.
According to Williams, this was a longstanding program that began under former County Executive Andrew Spano. It was discontinued by Astorino before being revived this year.
“Law enforcement professionals ran the program for years. In the four years that County Executive Astorino has been in office, he has done nothing to publicly support or enhance the program,” he said. “Now, in an election year, he calls a press conference to announce a program that existed before he took office.”
Williams added that several programs for at-risk youth and gang prevention have seen their budgets cut dramatically. He stressed that while the new program is a step in the right direction, there is still much to be done in Mount Vernon.
“Programs like the Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, Step-Up, Youth Empowerment and those run by the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau and Recreation Department are valuable tools to keep kids away from crime,” he said. “Putting more police officers out on patrol to make more arrests is not the only way of handling problems with at-risk youths.”
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