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Mount Vernon PBA Union President Gamble Voices No Confidence In Department Leadership

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14522319_10210322890930928_1183995988_oMount Vernon – With a strong show of support from dozens of Mount Vernon Police Officers, Mount Vernon Police Benevolent Association President Brent Gamble adamantly voices no confidence in MVPD leadership at the Wednesday, September 28th City Council Meeting. Roughly around 50-60 members of the MVPD, most dressed in blue police union T-shirts with the words “Overworked And Underpaid” on the front, stood as Detective Gamble spoke and showed their support with a rousing applause.

Detective Gamble expressed one of the biggest problems facing the MVPD is poor leadership.

“We need better leadership. We have [MVPD] cops sending Tarrytown 55 resumes, Portchester 65 resumes, County Police has a bunch… and it’s not just about the pay (pause), very poor and unfair leadership going on in the police department and it needs to be addressed,” Det. Gamble said in the City Council Chambers with Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate sitting in the front row to hear the union’s displeasure of police management to date. From Fatigate’s fidgeting in his seat and turning slightly red while Det. Gamble spoke, you could tell he did not agree or appreciate Gamble’s position.

Detective David Clarke also spoke at the Sept 28th Council Meeting expressing MVPD working without a contract since 2014.

“I am here in behalf of the membership because we have not had a contract since 2014,” Det. Clarke, Secretary of the MV PBA states. “The previous administration chose not to give us a raise in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and we are about to go into 2017 and would like to have the previous years resolved. We are losing so many cops, because we are the lowest paid in Westchester and we have the highest workload… It is hard to swallow when our other counterparts at Westchester police Departments are making anywhere from $20,000- $30,000 more than us.”

What has prompted Detective Gamble to speak up against his superiors at the City Council meeting? When he says, ‘We need better leadership’ or ‘We have very poor leadership‘, what is he talking about?

Since the departure of Commissioner Terrance Raynor and Deputy Commissioner Burke at the end of the Davis Administration in 2015, there have been many questions about the leadership of the MVPD, which has received much press in 2016. Starting with the appointment of Robert ‘Bob’ Kelly as Public Safety Commissioner over Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Many questioned if he was right for the job.  There was the question of if he could serve over both the Police & Fire Departments with out an amendment of the City Charter by the City Council, since the Charter states no one can hold two positions.

After making the rounds, walking the streets to meet the people like politician during campaign season and a strong appearance of PBP Radio and several community forums and town hall-style meetings, the critics including BW started to believe he might be the right man for the job. Some started to feel we had strong leadership in the making. But in May that all changed when Kelly was fired by Mayor Thomas, which sparked controversy and left many asking why the mayor was getting rid of his first and most touted appointee. Since Kelly’s dismissal the police department has been without a police commissioner.

Ronald Fatigate was appointed Deputy Commissioner and became the Acting Police Commissioner, the position he still holds. We have been told by the mayor on several of occasions that the national search for a new police commissioner was taking place and we should have one within a month or two. Five months later as the calendar pages turn to October, we are still without a police commissioner.

In addition there was some controversy over the appointment of Honorary Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio, a 20-plus year veteran in the sanitation business. There was questions if he appointment was good, due to certain paperwork not being filed with the clerk’s office, which was verified by City Clerk George Brown and former HR Commissioner Rick Pogue before he tendered his resignation. Since Spiezio is a larger than life character, many questioned just what was his role, Mayor Thomas told the Journal News, he was honorary which means he doesn’t receive a salary,

Thomas said Spiezio is not on the city payroll. “He is an honorary deputy commissioner — key word, ‘honorary’— helping the Police Department fund raise. That’s it.”

So when Councilwoman Roberta Apuzo read into the record at a Council Meeting, Speizio’s letter to Comptroller Maureen Walker demanding medical benefits, many were confused on just what role Spiezio plays. If he is ‘honorary’ as the mayor told Lohud, then how is he eligible for health benefits.

In a strong statement Damon K. Jones, NY Rep of BLEA, blasted Mayor Thomas and Deputy Commissioner Spiezio for having the audacity to ask for health benefits, when he is not even on payroll according to the comptroller’s office and Mayor Thomas’ own words in Lohud.

Questions continued about Spiezio allegedly running the MVPD, what exactly is his role? We checked the charter and was unable to find the role and duties of an Honorary Police Commissioner. While Spiezio was not the first to be appointed and Mayor Thomas was not the first to appoint an honorary police commissioner, we were unable to find the position in the Charter at all, despite the fact we are told there is one position and Retired Detective Anthony ‘Old School’ Mitchell also holds the position. We are told by City Clerk Brown and former HR Commissioner Pogue, Retired Detective Mitchell had his paperwork in first, despite the fact Spiezio was appointed before him. This led to Journal News columnist Phil Reisman asking is Joe Spiezio Running Mount Vernon in his column. City Hall insiders have told BW, it is Spiezio who really call the shots in City Hall, the Police Department and the Fire Department.

So when Det. Gamble says we need better leadership and we have poor leadership, one has to admit the leadership is MVPD has been questionable if not downright confusing. Sgt. Jennifer Carpenter speaks a little about the atmosphere on the MVPD and the need to build and develop a new culture within the department when she got up to talk about 21st Century Policing.

With the issue of residency looming which included Kelly, and includes Fatigate (who gave a Mount Vernon address but is believed to not reside in the city), and Deputy Commissioners Joe Spiezio, Sean Harris and Anthony Mitchell, no police commissioner or fire commissioner since May, and the ongoing Civil War in City Hall, what started out as a rough and lengthy transition has quickly turned into a state of arrested development, not just in the police department but in the city government as well. No wonder the Police Union had no confidence in the leadership going into October.

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