MOUNT VERNON - Federal officials have launched an investigation into the Mount Vernon Police Department, alleging that city officers may have ties to local street gangs.

Sources say the probe, led by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office, is focused on several uniformed police officers who may have connections with current gang members. The alignment has also apparently forced other law enforcement agencies to shy away from working with Mount Vernon police, according to those same sources.

Mayor Ernie Davis says he is shocked by reports of the investigation, but says he is accustomed to working under adverse conditions.

The allegations are surfacing around the same time Davis fired Police Commissioner Carl Bell, citing frustration with the city's high crime rate. Moreover, the mayor is in the middle of a separate investigation into his finances.