While city employees and Mount Vernon residents are in the middle of the Tale of Two Mayors and trying to navigate through the politics and figure out who is in charge, Acting Mayor André Wallace re-appoints Shawn Harris as Police Commissioner. Harris took the oath of office Monday afternoon from City Clerk George Brown.
“Today, I re-appointed Mr. Shawn Harris as Commissioner of Public Safety to take charge of Mount Vernon’s Police Department,” André Wallace tells Black Westchester. “Mr. Harris has previously served the City of Mount Vernon in this capacity, and his familiarity with the Department’s operations and administration uniquely positions him to be successful on Day 1. I have every confidence that Mr. Harris is a dedicated and professional public servant who will, once again, serve our City with distinction.”
Shawn Harris, was officially sworn in January 2018 as the city’s top officer, by Mayor Richard Thomas after serving as following the retirement of the late Ronald Fatigate who took over as acting commissioner after Thomas fired Robert Kelly, 90 days after appointing him. Harris was the third under Mayor Richard Thomas’ administration and the first full-time police commissioner since 2016 until he was fired by Thomas in March.
“I was honored that Mayor Wallace has the confidence to re-appoint me as the Mount Vernon Police Commissioner,” Harris shares with Black Westchester. “As a law enforcement officials, we take an oath to support the constitution of the United States, State of New York and Charter of the City of Mount Vernon. It is my obligation to enforce the legislation that was passed by the City Council, unless I receive an order from a court that states otherwise. I anticipate that Former Mayor Richard Thomas will comply with the City Charter as he too took an oath to do without further embarrassment to the citizens of this great city.”
Harris was believed to be let go by Thomas in retalaition for firing Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spezio following his highly publicized run-in with New Rochelle Police, where Spiezzio was pulled him over for using the siren on his Mount Vernon-owned SUV to get around New Rochelle traffic.
As of Monday, Thomas still insists he is still mayor and has refused to move out of the mayor’s office after Wallace, the City Council President, was sworn in Wednesday night as acting mayor. The council said that Thomas forfeited his mayoralty last Monday when he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, admitting that he misappropriated campaign funds in 2015, so the Tale of Two Mayors continues.
Re-appointing Harris may have been a means of taking away Thomas influence of the MVPD to remain in possession of the Mayor’s office. The re-appointment of Harris by Wallace may be a shift in who the police follow and who controls the police controls the city.
Harris also shared his thoughts on what’s been going on in City Hall.
“Further, it is my understanding that Lawrence Porcari issued a memo to city employees stating that the legislation passed by the City Council was unlawful,” Harris continued. “It is disturbing that the head of the city’s Law Department gives an opinion that directs the other department heads to disregard lawfully enacted legislation. He knows better than anyone where to go for relief if he feels that the legislation was unlawful. It would be better to get a legal opinion from a Judge rather than a city’s attorney who was recently indicted on allegations of taking actions that benefiting Former Mayor Richard Thomas. It will beneficial to the citizens and city employees to get an independent opinion so we can move on with the city’s business.
Lou Migliore a spokesmen for Thomas did not return our request for a comment. Shawyn Patterson-Howard who won the Democratic Primary and is highly favored to prevail victorious in the General Election had no comment on the re-appointment of Harris.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story