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Police Commissioner Arrested By His Own Officers In Mount Vernon Due To Appear In Court

Mount Vernon Police Department.
Mount Vernon Police Department. Photo Credit: File

The newly sworn-in police commissioner in Mount Vernon - who was arrested in City Hall this week and detained for nine hours - is scheduled to appear in court.

Former Police Commissioner Shawn Harris was reappointed as the Commissioner of Public Safety in charge of the Mount Vernon Police Department by acting Mayor Andre Wallace, amid controversies at City Hall about whether Wallace or Mayor Richard Thomas is in charge of the city.

On Tuesday, July 16, Harris was taken into police custody while attempting to enter police headquarters and he was charged with criminal trespassing. Harris is scheduled to make a court appearance on Thursday, July 18.

The former - and possibly current - police commissioner called it one of the worst days of his life and said it was an embarrassment for himself and for his family. It is unclear who will lead the police department moving forward as Wallace and Thomas continue to butt heads.

The police commissioner chaos comes as Thomas and Wallace remain at each others’ throats, with neither willing to concede the mayor’s office, and both claiming to be the one in charge.

On Monday, July 8, Thomas pleaded guilty to fourth-degree attempted grand larceny and second-degree offering a false statement for filing. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to resign from office as of Monday, Sept. 30.

Two days later, on Wednesday, July 10, the Mount Vernon City Council unanimously voted on legislation to remove Thomas from office immediately, giving him 24 hours to vacate City Hall. City Council President Andre Wallace was named the interim mayor, while Councilwoman Janice Duarte became the council president.

However, it has remained unclear to city employees and residents alike who is actually in charge of Mount Vernon as the two continue to debate. Thomas has steadfastly insisted he remains the mayor, while Wallace unofficially took over as acting mayor on Friday, July 12.

Harris was the deputy commissioner of parking when Thomas appointed him acting police commissioner in the spring of 2016. He was then named commissioner in January 2018.

In March, Thomas unexpectedly ousted Harris from his position, announcing that he had been “released” as of March 13. He was replaced temporarily by Mount Vernon Lt. Robert Scott. There were no details released about why Harris was let go.

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