Former Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio, who was unceremoniously ousted from his position last month, reportedly is still in possession of his police shield and a city-owned SUV.
Spiezio was stopped on Webster Avenue in New Rochelle at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3, police said. He was driving a city-owned Chevrolet Suburban - which has been a point of contention amongst Mount Vernon officials - and using a siren to drive by other cars.
Despite being out of a city job, Spiezio, who resigned from his $1 salary and serves as an advisor to Mayor Richard Thomas, is reportedly still in possession of a 2017 black Chevrolet Tahoe and he has not returned his department police shield.
Former Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Shawn Harris - who was “released” suddenly last week - wrote a letter to Mount Vernon Corporate Counsel Lawrence Porcari on the day he lost his job. In the letter, he encourages Porcari to take legal action against Spiezio, noting that if he is involved in an accident in the SUV, the city could be liable for damages.
“It is not in the best interests of the city to permit a person who is not a city employee or officer possess and exercise control over city property,” he wrote. “Furthermore, it has been 36 days since Mr. Spiezio was separated from the Mount Vernon Police Department and has failed to return department property and equipment.
“It is your ethical obligation as the Corporation Counsel to protect the public and protect the rights and interests of the city as a municipal government, and not subject the same to needless actions, suits and proceedings brought against it or any of the city officers do to malfeasance.
Mount Vernon City Council President Andre Wallace wrote to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. on Friday, requesting that his office steps in to intervene. He noted that the city has received two Notice of Liability from the New Rochelle Police Department Red Light Traffic Safety Program for violations issued to the vehicle.
“This is very troubling because Mount Vernon has had many known incidents of civilians in possession of police identification and badges,” he said. “Moreover, the city is subject to increased liability if a former employee is operating city equipment recklessly and illegally."
According to reports, the department claims that Spiezio has returned all city-owned property and will not face any disciplinary action.
Police said that on the day he was ticketed, Spiezio drove recklessly, more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit. He allegedly passed more than five cars stopped at a steady red light and made an illegal right turn from the “left turn only” lane. He also used lights and sirens on the vehicle to pass traffic.
When he was stopped, Spiezio identified himself as a police commissioner, but did not have any documentation or his driver’s license. A computer check of his ID found that Spiezio’s license had been suspended.
“Operating a city-owned vehicle while your driving privileges are suspended is indefensible. Using emergency lights and sirens when not necessary or appropriate makes matters worse and creates a hazard to the public which cannot be mitigated," the department stated. “Mr. Spiezio’s actions have caused irreparable damage to the department’s integrity, morale and reputation. We are accountable to the people we serve. Therefore, Mr. Spiezio’s retirement is appropriate given the seriousness of his conduct and in the best interests of the Mount Vernon Police Department.”
Damon K. Jones, a representative for Blacks in Law Enforcement of America said that, "to this end, we are demanding state or federal oversight of the police department and the immediate apprehension and arrest of former Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio for impersonating a Law Enforcement official.
"For the last three years, Mr. Spiezio has made a mockery of the Westchester courts, the Mount Vernon Police Department and law enforcement as a whole, as well as its justice system. It shocks the conscious of how one man can create so much chaos through law enforcement, the courts, and our justice system and not be held accountable."
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