Operation Protect, Symbolism Without Substance?
Or is it Protecting Egos, not Community of Rank and File Law Enforcement?
Originally Ran in Westchester Black Watch on NOVEMBER 16, 2009 · 3:26 AM
Editor Note: During the 2015 Mt. Vernon Mayoral Race debates, former Mayor Clinton Young, talks proudly about bringing a system called ShotSpotter to Mt. Vernon and how successful it was. He then says Mayor Davis discontinued the use of the great crime fighting tool. But in our research on ShotSpotter, we came across this article where members of the National Black Police Association in Westchester County and Washington DC who dispute Young’s praise of ShotSpotter in 2009. Going as far to say the system never led to even one arrest in both Mount Vernon and DC. With the upcoming primary coming up in a week, we decided to report this article to get the facts to the people of Mt. Vernon.
The city of Mount Vernon is in another six weeks of Operation Protect. A project pushed by elected officials and Law enforcement management of Mt. Vernon, NY. Operation Project was formed to reduce crime and build better relations with the community they claim to serve.
This will be the second time this program is used in the city. Only this time they have taken away the barricades to block off the streets. The reason might be because of the lawsuit by the ACLU in Washington DC that found their police department in violation of citizen’s rights using similar tactics. So now that they are forced to bulk up police presence, officers are actually talking to people and walking the streets. This idea is a good one, a step closer to true community policing. This idea forces supporting crime units to do their job more efficiently, unfortunately, this effort is symbolism with no substance.
“As a national organization we offer all of our assistance and resources to make it effective,” said, Damon K. Jones, North East Region Representative of the National Black Police Association, “but it will take many community components such as: IPC Training of the officers, updated equipment, social work, education, more police presence throughout all of Mt. Vernon and proper outreach to the community will make this program truly effective”.
History has shown when elected officials package any program to be safe for the community and a program that will save lives, the weary citizens for change will accept it with open arms. In the last three years there have been 29 homicides and almost twice as many victims that have been shot or shot at, all within a city that is only four by four square miles. Citizens are scared to death and will accept anything, even if it doesn’t stop crime. The crime is just moves it to other parts of the city or other Black communities in Westchester County. We now have the “Not in My Back Yard Attitude” the citizens just worry about what’s going on in their back yard but what about their neighbor across town? When will we realize that what happens in the south side effects the north side, if one doesn’t support the other; all of Mt. Vernon will fall.
This is the same reason Doug Williams was killed earlier this year. Operation Protect pushed the kids from the south side to the north side; Hartley Park Area; and that lead to the altercation with a grown man fatally stabbing a teenager. Labeling this incident as gang related was convenient for the brains behind this program; they could dismiss their responsibility in the calculated error. No apology to Ms. Williams, no visit to the funeral or wake by the Mayor or Commissioner Chong.
It was told at BlackWatch that the elite, knowledgeable Law Enforcement Executives requested funding for ShotSpotter. The County Executive, Any Spano out of his love for the communities of color sends a 1.5 million dollar radar detector called Shotspotter. Without proper research our legislators force-fed us the idea that it saves lives at the cost of another 300 thousand a year to maintain and operate the system at the cost of Mt. Vernon.
Recently, Commissioner Chong and Mayor Young held a press conference announcing that the shotspotter system was operational. They even stated that an arrest was made from the information of the system. Unfortunately for the tax payers of Mt. Vernon, this is far from the truth. Yes, an arrest was made but by NYPD . They saw the culprit dispose of the weapon. No, it wasn’t a result of the shotspotter system
“We have this technology in Washington, DC, said Ron Hampton, the Executive Director of the National Black Police Associations national office based in Washington, DC “Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union made a request by way of the freedom of information act to acquire information regarding any arrest made as a result of shotspotters and CCTV’s in our city. The city response was there has not been one arrest as a result of this technology in our city.”
So what Commissioner Chong is telling us? In one month Mt Vernon has out Shotspottered Washington DC the Murder capital of the Nation? Yeah, Right!
At BlackWatch, we must ask the question, how can you stop crime in the city when your rank and file officer are not properly equipped to do the job he/she has sworn to do? Mt. Vernon Police Department is in the stone ages. Their cars are not equipped with computers, officers’ body armor are five years old at best and training is inadequate. How many police officers in 2009 will actually have to call into Dispatch to run a plate or an I.D.?
With the relationship between the police and the community on life support, shootings are almost a daily reporting. We cannot have our officers in the street with dated equipment such as body armor, there is always a chance a gang member will take a shot at one of our officers. Operation Protect has made them more visible. But yet they want them to go and fight crime by the grace of God with inadequate equipment. This is a total disrespect to the tax payers of Mt Vernon and the families of the Law Enforcement Officers.
It is known throughout the community that one of the major problems is the large number of gangs. From our research MVPD has in its Gang Unit, one Black detective and one Black police officer. At least one of the officers is from the City of Mt Vernon. The problem is the two people working in this unit versus the approximate 30 different gangs with anywhere from 15 to 50 members. This Gang Unit is out matched and under manned. This unit needs more officers to support the efforts of Operation Protect.
The Youth Unit has seen success with only two detectives in the unit. There are now four but even with four officers there are 11,000 youth in the city of Mt. Vernon. Clearly this is not enough. The majority of the crime is committed by15 -22 year olds. Even over worked the brave officers still work with what they have and make the best of it. Unfortunately that is usually the case. To support the theory of Operation Protect this unit also needs more officers.
From BlackWatch’s research the Major Case Unit is one of the most successful units in the State of New York and the County of Westchester. The Major Case Unit from 2004 till July of 2009 has solved most of its cases and or has leads in the unsolved cases. The detectives in this unit have a tremendous amount of experience in the court room.
It has been told to BlackWatch by many commissioners for other departments that an officer in Mt. Vernon with five years on the job is equal in experience to an officer with 15 in other municipalities of Westchester. It is clear with the crime rate that management is not utilizing the true talent and experience in their rank and file to truly make a difference.
To show lack of respect to the hard-working officers of MVPD the city has created a $65,000 a year part-time position of community elision or Drug Market Intervention Coordinator. This has been reported on Mount Vernon Exposed. This is the ultimate political hog wash! Why not fill the position with an officer from the community that has respect in the community? You will use the hard-working black officers on the street that know the community and hire a “nobody” to create policy and procedures for those same officers. Shame on you Mt. Vernon!
Majority of the time the issue is funding. More funding is needed for our police department to increase staff, specialized units and training in Mt. Vernon. Only through funding can the issues of youth and gang crimes be addressed.
BlackWatch had listed below programs that can assist us in our efforts to truly fight crime in our community and these Grants didn’t cost us 65 thousand a year to find the information.
President Obama has made efforts to support police departments such as ours in need of help. As citizens it is our duty to ask our elected officials and appointed law enforcement officials what governmental help are they applying for? BlackWatch had listed below programs that can assist us in our efforts to truly fight crime in our community.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT COMMUNITY ORIENTATED POLICING SERVICES COPS
Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocates $1 billion to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP). Approximately 5,500 additional sworn law enforcement officers will be added to agencies across the country through funding provided by this program. The grant program will be open to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
On July 28, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Department of Justice COPS Office has awarded $1 billion in Recovery Act funding through its COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) to state, local and tribal law enforcement to create and/or preserve nearly 5,000 law enforcement positions The Secure Our Schools Program (SOS) The COPS Office is pleased to announce the availability of funding under the COPS
Secure Our Schools (SOS) 2009 grant program.
Approximately $16 million is available in FY2009 to provide funding to law enforcement agencies to assist with the development of school safety resources and provide improved security at schools and on school grounds. Specifically, this program will fund up to 50% of the total cost to implement one or more of the following options: placement and use of metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures; security assessments; security training of personnel and students; coordination with local law enforcement; and/or any other measure that may provide a significant improvement in security J
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES $129 MILLION IN AWARDS TO SUPPORT YOUTH MENTORING WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced more than $129 million in Recovery Act and Fiscal Year 2009 funds have been awarded for mentoring services to help prevent at-risk youth from becoming involved in delinquency. The grants will also preserve and create jobs throughout the United States. “The Recovery Act has allowed us to invest further in the future of today’s youth by providing mentoring opportunities to help children reach their full potential,” said Attorney General Holder. “These grants will help steer young people away from criminal activities by providing them with healthy life alternatives, positive role models and direct contact with caring adults.” The Recovery Act, signed into law by President Obama, provides the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) with more than $85 million for national mentoring programs to reduce juvenile delinquency, violence, gang participation, school failure and dropout rates.
LOCAL GRANTS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT Operation IMPACT Tools Criminal Justice Services to support the efforts of local officials and their State partners to develop and implement problem-solving strategies. These awards will be directed towards one or more of the four components of Operation IMPACT and in response to a documented local crime problem. New York State’s Soft Body Armor Program Soft Body Armor Program NYS Soft Body Armor reimbursement program Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant – New York As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, the 108 th Congress merged the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant Program (Byrne) with the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program (LLEBG) to establish the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG). The Byrne JAG Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs to support a broad range of state and local government efforts to prevent and control crime and to improve the criminal justice system