The recent murders in the city of Mt. Vernon to end 2016, should reminded us that every city government elected official should be held accountable for public safety, and the perception thereof, in our community. In turn, our elected officials delegate to our police agency the primary responsibility for public safety, at least that part of it that pertains to crime, nuisances, disorder, and traffic safety.
While city government certainly should rely on their police executives to understand public safety and crime prevention in-depth, the elected official should know enough to ensure that police and other local government functions are being carried out effectively, efficiently, and fairly.
For any city to have a nickname of “Murderville” should be of great concern of not only the residents but should be a focus of change among city elected officials, especially those who ran on public safety. To the detriment of the residents of Mt. Vernon, the incompetence of our elected officials not to pass legislation to ensure that the Mt. Vernon government has competent and knowledgeable persons in control of these functions does not only put the public in danger, but the lives of the officers that are the first line of defense. To have a Deputy Police Commissioner with no “Police Experience” run the department sends a clear message to criminal element that Mount Vernon is “Open for Business” for lawlessness.
As citizens, we must ask why Mt. Vernon High school is averaging a Mount Vernon School District’s 61% graduation rate is lower which is much lower than the NY state average of 87%. Minority enrollment is 97% of the student body (majority Black), which is more than the state average of 54%. According to publicschoolreview.com) the majority of the gun violence perpetrated by those 16 to 22 year of age, have dropped out of school, can’t find a means to make a living and turns to guns, gangs, and violence as a means of survival. Why haven’t the city’s elected officials seen to a greater need to invest in our youth and in our community?
If you ask the residents of Mt. Vernon why this hard shift in life and attitude about the city of Mt. Vernon, some will blame the youth and gangs and lack of education and others will blame the family structure. To be honest, youth, gangs and violence are the “effect”. The true “cause” of the problem is that many of our city leaders and elected officials have failed to give Mt. Vernon citizens any true quality-of-life investment for the residents.
The senseless murder of Shamoya McKenzie, a 13-year-old girl was shot in the head and killed in broad daylight should “Shock the Conscious” of residents, elected officials and community leaders that we have a serious problem if we cannot properly keep a city that’s only 4-by-4 square miles.
Many Mt. Vernon Police Officers are doing the best they can, but without the proper leadership our police department is stagnant with a cloud of suspicion around its leadership. The Police Department is a Paramilitary structure. Like the military, the most important part of that structure is the Leadership. Police leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. The Police Command is the persons in authority in the Police service that lawfully exercises the mission of the police department over subordinates by virtue of their rank and assignment or position. The basic responsibilities of a leader are: Accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of the rank and file.
The most fundamental and important organizational technique used by a Police Department is the chain of command. The chain of command is the sequence of commanders in an organization who have direct authority and primary responsibility for accomplishing the assigned mission while caring for personnel and property (the community) in their charge. If the city of Mt. Vernon is not safe then the leadership and those over the authority of the police leadership have failed the primary assigned mission!
PRINCIPLE 9 “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
Principle 9 is essential because policing techniques and philosophy have not stopped crime and violence in Mt. Vernon. If we use #9 as a guide or a report card then policing as it is today, is insufficient and has failed miserably to the needs of black people to keep us safe and make us feel protected like other communities. Our elected officials have failed to recognize the problem and change it to improve the quality of life of the residents of Mt. Vernon.
When will our elected officials acknowledge the existence of the many children on the streets with no programs to channel their energy in a positive direction? When you run on Public Safety and the people, especially our elderly do not feel safe, who is to blame? Where is the sense of responsibility and urgency from our Mt. Vernon elected officials for Mt. Vernon residents, especially those that live on the south side many homicides ago? Giving out free Hamburgers and Hot Dogs has not stopped the influx of guns in our community. Why aren’t they doing something about the quality of life of the people?
Has a murder become another photo opportunity for publicity by our elected official to play the blame game amongst each other with no real intentions on fixing the problems that is now holding our community hostage?
As I stated many times, as a Mt. Vernon resident and a Correction Officer with over 27 years work experience, I have watched many men, women and children come through the doors of our county jail. Many are discharged without any support system from the county or city government and they have no choice to resort back to the life of crime because the criminal element is more supportive than the element of the city government. If we want a safer Mt. Vernon, we have to address the challenge many neighborhoods face, with respect to persons who are coming out of prison and going back to the community.
It is clear that we simply cannot “arrest” ourselves out of our current crime problem. There must be a comprehensive change in the mindset of the people. A truly effective city government treats public safety as a government function, not just a police function.
To achieve any sustainable reduction in crime, our elected officials must: 1.Engage in an aggressive plan to identify and promote social service programs, 2. Address the needs of the many citizens returning from correctional facilities, 3. Create and support conflict resolution centers for our youth, 4. Aggressively address the need for real economic development and 4. Confront the lack of financial assistance from county and state for families in need to provide meaningful assistance. This is especially critical to those families with children, to prevent the youth from growing up being/feeling neglected and joining so-called gangs and engaging in criminal active.