Shootings Down Sharply in Mount Vernon; Mayor Credits Partnership with ATF
Mayor Thomas announced that shootings in the city had been cut almost in half this year and overall crime continues to decline. Mayor credits the effectiveness of a partnership between the Mount Vernon Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
While ATF agents are not involved in the investigation of every shooting — their prime focus is on non-fatal shootings — Mayor Thomas said the results of the partnership have been unequivocally positive. In the 11 months, ATF agents have been working alongside the MVPD:
- Total shootings are down 42%; from 52 in 2017 to 30 in 2018
- Shootings that result in injuries are down 50%; from 24 in 2017 to 12 in 2018
- Shootings where there are no injuries are down 36%; 26 in 2017 to 18 in 2018
“There is no magic to the decline in shootings,” Mayor Thomas said. “More and better policing mean less crime. The presence and resources of ATF agents complementing our Mount Vernon officers creates a number of positives. Deterrence is more visible. Investigations are more comprehensive. And, cooperation is more forthcoming as trust is built.”
The Mayor made his comments at a swearing in ceremony welcoming seven probationary officers to the Mount Vernon police force, bringing the department to 212, it’s strongest level in five years.
He also announced a community gun buy-back program on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Mount Vernon Armory. Under the program, unwanted, unused and unnecessary guns can be turned into police, no questions asked, for cash.
“Policing is hard work,” Mayor Thomas said. “But when you have the right people, with the right programs and partnerships, you get results and make our community safer.”
Overall crime in Mount Vernon across the seven most serious categories is down 26 percent compared to last year; 32 percent since 2016; and 50 percent since 2013.
Commissioner Shawn Harris said the ATF partnership has been particularly helpful in converting investigations into arrests. In the 12 cases where ATF has directly aided the investigations, eight have resulted in arrests.
“Partnerships and collaboration of resources without egos produce results,” Commissioner Harris said, “The ATF partnership is successful because we share a common goal of providing a safe city by reducing the number of illegal guns in our community and holding those accountable who engage in gun violence.”
Ashan M. Benedict, the Special Agent in Charge for the New York Field Division, said the ATF and the Department of Justice are committed to protecting the public.
“We work with our state, local and federal partners to keep the streets free from individuals bent on possessing and using illegal firearms to commit violent acts,” he said. “In Mount Vernon, we have established a successful partnership that serves the community by combining local and federal resources to help reduce violent crime. The communication and collaboration that is taking place on crime reduction strategies with the Mount Vernon Police Department, the Mayor’s Office and ATF is profound. We are seeing some of the fruits of that labor and will continue to work every day to reduce violent crime and make the streets safer for all.”
The Community Gun Buy Back will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Mount Vernon Armory, 144 North Fifth Avenue. It is being sponsored by the Mayor, the Mount Vernon Police Department, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Mount Vernon Police Foundation.
Payment will be made by debit/gift cards on site:
- $25 for non-working and antique firearms
- $75 for rifles and shotguns
- $100 for handguns
- $150 for assault weapons
This is an amnesty program and no questions are asked of those dropping off the firearm, which must be unloaded. There is no limit on the number of guns that can be turned in. However, the program is not open to licensed gun dealers and active or retired law enforcement officers.
“A gun that is not under the right supervision is a gun that can cause trouble,” Mayor Thomas said. “We want those guns off the street and out of homes. And, we will pay to do it. It’s that simple. We have created an incentive for people to turn guns that for whatever reason they don’t want or need.”
The newest members of the Mount Vernon Police Department are:
- Samantha Betty
- Wendell Barbour
- Christopher Cartwright
- Robert Francis
- William Guevara
- Guillermo Lizaraburu
- Francisco Medina
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