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Department Of Justice Launches Civil Rights Investigation Into Mount Vernon Police Department

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The United States Department of Justice has opened a major civil rights investigation into the Mount Vernon Police Department.

U.S. Attorneys said the investigation will look into how Mount Vernon police officers treat Black residents, allegations of excessive force and how evidence is handled, among other complaints, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Friday.

"The investigation we are announcing today will assess whether the Mount Vernon Police Department engages in discriminatory conduct singling out Black residents for mistreatment," said Damian Williams, the newly-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Williams cited multiple recent examples of misconduct, including body camera video showing a white Mount Vernon officer taking a Black woman to lockup and shoving her into a cell. The woman stumbled, fell and was injured.

"We have received information about the repeated use of excessive force, often against individuals who are handcuffed, are already in police custody or are suspected of nonviolent offenses, including excessive force against minors," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke.

WATCH: DOJ Announces Investigation Into Mount Vernon Police Department

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard pushed for the feds to investigate. Even with Black leadership at city hall since 1985 and many Black police commissioners over the years, she said officer misconduct is a deep-rooted issue.

"Look, just because you have Black leadership does not always mean that you have leadership that is committed to transforming police departments. I think the status quo has been in existence for far too long," Patterson-Howard said.

Residents are being asked to contact the feds with any information that might help investigators.

"Hopefully they'll change the system," one resident told Aiello.

Glenn Scott, Mount Vernon's current police commissioner, has already disbanded troubled units and beefed up discipline.

"Most of the past practices have been eliminated, that they are investigating," Scott said.

Scott predicted the federal probe will end with a finding that the city is on the right track with suitable reforms in place.

Mount Vernon joins Louisville, Phoenix and Minneapolis as cities targeted by the Biden administration for a police civil rights probe this year.

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