United Black Clergy Of Westchester To Hold Press Conf. In support of MVPD For Safe Street & Safe City Rally

*****Updated: Monday, March 7, 2022 to include link to the press conference gone wrong, below at the bottom of page!!!*****

The United Black Clergy of Westchester will be holding a press conference they are calling Safe Streets And Safe City in support of the Mount Vernon Police Department on the steps on Mount Vernon City Hall, Monday, March 7, 2022, at 11 AM.

Pastors including Rev. Troy DeCohen – President of the United Black Clergy of Westchester, Bishop C. Nathan Edwers, Bishop Lynn Middletown, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Wheeler, Bishop Errol O’Savio, and other local city clergy will rally on the steps of Mount Vernon City Hall, 1 Roosevelt Square, Mount Vernon, New York, in support of the need for Safe Streets and Safe City.

As leaders in our community, we recognize the importance of officer wellness and officer safety
related to our city’s public safety. As a community, we are opposed to having our officers working
rotating shifts. According to policofficer.org, 72 percent of agencies around the county now operate
on fixed tours, not rotating shifts.

A study commissioned by the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association states that officers who rotate
frequently are more often fatigued, suffer an increased level of sleep disorders, are more likely to
have traffic accidents and are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Not only is this a health and wellness issue, but it is also an issue that can lead to performance
problems throughout their careers.

Well-rested and clear-headed officers are critical for policing the city of Mount Vernon. Changing
our officers’ work schedules is a significant disruption to their lives and families. For this reason,
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, the Mount Vernon City Council must establish policies to
mitigate officer fatigue, not create officer burnout.

Public safety is a crucial part of our community’s function in our city. Over the years, we have lost
officers to other police departments because they’re overworked and underpaid. It is unacceptable
that our Mayor finds funds for everything else but our Police Officers.

There is a national conversation about investing in our police officers. Unfortunately, it seems like
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, the Mount Vernon City Council, is purposely defunding our
police department and forcing good officers to seek employment in other cities.

On Tuesday, March 1st Mount Vernon PBA President released a statement on Facebook;

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard of the city of Mount Vernon is about to make a very important decision that will affect the lives of many Mount Vernon police officers. After all the Mount Vernon Police Department has been through over the past few years I hope and pray that the mayor has the best interests of the Officers at heart when she makes her decision. The members of the Mount Vernon Police Department have been through a lot over the past few years, They have come to work in some of the hardest and most deplorable conditions imaginable yet they’ve done it and done it well. All these police officers ask now is to keep their lives in order and not radically change their home and family life and negatively affect their health and mental wellness. Is that too much to ask? These are just a handful of officers that were brave enough to speak out about how their lives are to be affected by this unpopular and unnecessary change in our schedule.

accompanied by the video below;

Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell ended rotating shifts in 2012 shortly after an off-duty Mount Vernon police officer – 29-year-old Reginald Velez – was killed when he crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer in a fiery wrong-way crash in the Bronx early Thursday, March 29, 2012, NBC New York reported.

MVPD Officer Reginald Velez

We reached out to the mayor for a comment since she was mentioned in press release and although she said she had not seen the press release she gave us the following comment after we read it to her over the phone.

“The safety of our officers are our greatest concern. As we are experiencing critically low staffing levels at this time, the leadership of the police department with the support of the mayor’s office will support whatever staffing schedule that will keep officers on the street to assure the safety of the residents and the police officers as a whole,” Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard shared with Black Westchester. “We will continue to evaluate.”

The Pastors informed Black Westchester that they and other community stakeholders are willing to sit down with the Mayor, the PBA, and Police Management to develop real solutions for a proper approach to have safe streets and a safe city. “This is what Community Policing looks like!” they say in closing in the press release.

The United Black Clergy of Westchester is a coalition of Black Clergy in Westchester County, NY, founded in 1981 by the Late Rev. Dr. Richard H. Dixon, Jr. for community involvement and social justice.

Update: Monday, March 7, 2022 – you can watch the press conference gone wrong here.