The Building Department at Mount Vernon City Hall is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, two days after a suspicious package and fire forced a pair of evacuations.
Police said that the threat was announced at approximately 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, prompting an evacuation as officers took emergency measures. The area around City Hall was shut down.
The Westchester County Police Bomb Squad responded to City Hall and determined that the package outside the Building Department contained a pest control device. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas noted that it is not a typical pest control device that would typically be purchased over the counter.
Once the Bomb Squad cleared the scene and was allowing people back into the building, the smell of smoke coming from the Building Department was smelled, and the Fire Department was called to the scene as it was evacuated for a second time. The building was reopened at approximately 12:45 p.m.
Thomas said that the fire is suspicious in nature and is currently being investigated.
“We spent the last few years raising concerns, making clear requests to invest in the safety and security of City Hall, the City of Mount Vernon to protect the people of Mount Vernon and to protect the American Dream in this building,” he said. “What we’ve seen unfold is an American nightmare. We wil continue to advocate for investments inside and outside this building to ensure the people of Mount Vernon that their property and information is safe.
“We will not be intimidated, and we will continue to move Mount Vernon forward,” Thomas continued. “These two incidents underscore the urgent need to address the chronic budget shortfalls with respect to the security needed to protect employees and visitors at City Hall and the technology needed to replace paper documents with digitized records that can’t be destroyed. This is a warning that precautions must be taken. We may not be as lucky the next time.”
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