Crime Suburban NYC Police Dept. Investigated for Alleged Illegal Strip Searches, Excessive Force
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A federal investigation was announced Friday into the police department of Mount Vernon, New York, to evaluate accusations of civil rights violations like excessive force and illegal strip searches, according to the Associated Press.
Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the investigation during a press conference Friday and said it will evaluate whether the police department's officers perform their duties in a racially discriminatory manner, according to the Westchester Journal News.
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"officers have tough jobs, and so many do their work honorably, lawfully, and with distinction, respecting the rights of the people they have sworn to protect," Williams said in the statement. "But when officers break the law, they violate their oath and undermine a community's trust."
Kristen Clarke, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said during the press conference that the investigation is in response to public complaints that have been made, as well as private comments submitted to the department.
She said her department has "received reports that officers target Black residents for abuse and excessive force, including information suggesting that supervisors teach this targeting to their subordinates."
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The department will inform the public if the investigation produces no evidence of the previous allegations, but if those allegations are substantiated the Department of Justice will release a full report of their evidence, and work with the department to create and implement positive reforms to ensure the violations are not repeated.
Similar investigations have been announced already this year into police departments in Minneapolis and Louisville following the deaths ofand at the hands of police officers in the two cities.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
It also launched a pattern or practice probe into the police in Phoenix.
The announcement came seven months after Mimi Rocah, the Westchester County district attorney, called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the small police department north of the Bronx is "systematically violating peoples' civil rights." She cited a pattern of unjustified strip searches and body cavity searches and "potentially unlawful conduct by several former and current" Mount Vernon police officers.
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One former officer, James Ready, pleaded guilty this summer to assaulting a handcuffed and shackled man in a hospital—a body-slamming caught on surveillance video. The officer also admitted falsifying records and lying about the 2019 attack in an effort to cover it up.
Ready's plea agreement calls for him to be placed on probation. Rocah's office recently denied a public records request for the surveillance footage from the Associated Press, saying the case remains open.
DOJ launches civil rights probe into police department in New York suburb .
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that it would be opening a civil rights investigation into a police department in a New York City suburb.The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the DOJ's Civil Rights Division announced that the "pattern-or-practice" probe would evaluate allegations concerning the Mount Vernon Police Department's use of force and strip searches. "Police officers have tough jobs, and so many do their work honorably, lawfully, and with distinction, respecting the rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect," said Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District.