White Plains — Mount Vernon residents were sadden to hear in the 11th hour, that the Mt. Vernon Probation Office, located at 24 South 3rd Avenue would be closing it doors for good on Tuesday, December 15th and nine probation officers would be moved to White Plains. It also would put an end to the many services provided by the probation office, like GED classes.
BW reported Mount Vernon stakeholders gathered at the Mt. Vernon Probation Office located at 24 South 3rd Avenue, Friday afternoon, to protest and publicly show their outrage in the December 15th closing.
Residents feared that the office moving to White Plains would cause those on probation to be violated for not being able to make it to White Plains.
Mayor Ernest D. Davis called the closure an inevitable threat to public safety at the press conference, “It will lead to more crime and gang violence on the city’s already troubled streets.”
A Westchester County Probation Office insider told BW today that while the county claims the closure of the Mt. Vernon office was due to budget cuts, it will be hiring 7 new probation officers and expanding its Peekskill office space, located at 750 Washington Street, in addition to adding a domestic violence unit.
The expanding of Peekskill office space and hiring new probation officers in Peekskill leave residents with more questions than answers. Was the closure of the Mount Vernon done so the county could expand in Peekskill and hire more probation officers in Peekskill? If not how do you explain closing of the Mt. Vernon office?
The Westchester County probation offices serves Yonkers, New York’s fourth largest city, New Rochelle, the County Seat of White Plains, Peekskill and Mount Vernon. With more than 150 probation officers and supervising officers, this department oversees 2,000 juvenile cases and more than 11,000 adult cases each year. For the past twenty years, the Department of Probation has recovered $750,000 to $1 million annually in victim restitution. The Department of Probation works with the Family Courts, criminal courts, District Attorney’s office, criminal justice agencies and social service agencies to ensure that offenders are adequately supervised and prepared for re-entry into society.
A county spokesperson said, “It’s actually an improvement to the services by having Mt. Vernon probation officers work from White Plains. The officers will be closer to the courts, which will cut down on cost, making the services more efficient. With the savings from a more efficient probation system it plans to increase the number of officers, so they can travel down to Mt. Vernon to meet with people at their homes.”
While that sounds good on paper and in theory, in a city, that houses many people who other municipalities do not want within their city limits, and has a large portion of those on probation in the county, it would make sense to keep the probation office open in Mount Vernon, even if it had to be relocated to another location in the city, like the county building on 1st Avenue and 1st Street, instead of moving officers to White Plains and hiring more in Peekskill.
Mount Vernon should not have to suffer because the county wants officers to be closer to the courts. Is that the priority here? Shouldn’t it be on reducing recidivism, promoting public safety and assisting individuals to change their lives to become productive residents? Ask yourself what’s the difference from officers working in Mt. Vernon and traveling to White Plains to go to court as suppose to working out of White Plains and traveling to Mt. Vernon to make home visits.
After Friday’s press conference, County Legislator Lyndon Williams informs BW that the county will move some of the probation office services into the county building on First and First. Some Mt. Vernon residents told BW they are disturbed at the county closing the Mt. Vernon office, while the County Executive Rob Astorino joined forces with Mayor-Elect Richard Thomas to host an upcoming Toy Drive.
“How do you closed a probation office we need and offer the community toys instead and think everything is okay, that’s very disgraceful,” one local resident told BW.