On Friday, BW reported that Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas fired Commissioner of Public Safety Robert ‘Bob’ Kelly. Immediately following the move left everyone with questions than answers, like what happened? Why did the mayor fire Kelly? What changed? Wasn’t the Mayor defending his appointment when many were critical if he was the right choice? BW received many inquiries like the aforementioned and others, especially since the Mayor was not available or did not return calls for comment from BW and other area press outlets.
After countless attempts to reach Mayor Thomas he sent out the following statement, with quotes and comments from Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards, and Former Commissioner Ralph Fatigate, older brother of now Acting Commissioner Ronald Fatigate. We posted the press statement in its entirety, but promise the readers to get the answers to the questions many of you have been asking us over the past 24 hours. We will follow up with some questions of our own to get all the facts in this matter. Read the Mayor’s statement below and if you have any questions you would like us to ask the Mayor leave them in the comment section below this article. We will also continue to reach out to former Commissioner Kelly to get a quote from him as well.
In keeping a promise to constantly improve operations, Mayor Richard Thomas conducted a 90 day systems check on progress made by his entire administration.
On Friday, April 8th, 2016, Mayor Thomas and Bruce Jackson, chairman of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee, met with former Public Safety Commissioner Robert Kelly. After follow up discussions on Saturday, April 9th, 2016, Mayor Thomas decided to take the necessary step and terminate Kelly. This is a continuation of Mayor Thomas’ effort to fulfill his word to the people for complete culture change in the Mount Vernon Police Department. The Mayor has a vision on public safety which was not being implemented satisfactorily. Thus, the Mayor determined to make this necessary change.
Commissioner Kelly’s termination is effective Saturday, April 9th, at 5:00 PM whereby Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Ronald Fatigate will assume the role of “acting Public Safety Commissioner” until a national search for a new commissioner is concluded.
Not wasting time, Mayor Thomas tapped former Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Ralph Fatigate, Councilman Yuhanna Edwards – chair of the Council’s Public Safety and Codes Committee which oversees the Police Department, Minister Arthur Muhammad, Reverend Gwen Wilson, and Bruce Jackson to aggressively work with him to recruit a replacement in the near future.
Former Commissioner Fatigate, Councilman Edwards, and Mount Vernon Police Benevolent Association president praised the mayor for his decisive action and issued the following statements:
“There is one direction, forward. All visionary work to increase safety and strengthen the relationship between the police and public will continue. We are proud of the work we are able to get done, and understand that more work remains. The people elected me to drive responsible reforms and culture change in City Hall. This is mission critical, particularly at the Police Department,” said Mayor Thomas.
“Having many conversations with Mayor Thomas, I agree with his decision to make changes in the Police Department. It is incumbent that people in these type leadership roles be able to connect with the community and embrace the vision of the administration. In an effort to make Mount Vernon safer, I look forward to working with the committee to recruit new and dynamic leadership for the Mount Vernon Police Department,” said former Public Safety Commissioner Ralph Fatigate.
“I stand with Mayor Thomas and look forward to assisting in the search for a commissioner to lead the department,” said Councilman Edwards.
“On behalf of the Mount Vernon Police Benevolent Association, we extend our full support to the Thomas administration in their decision to move the department toward President Obama’s 21st century policing model, where compassion for people is paramount,” said Brent Gamble, president of the Mount Vernon Police Benevolent Association.