Mt. Vernon touts success of Operation Protect

Mount Vernon officials and residents came together Friday to celebrate the success of Operation Protect, a program geared toward reducing crime in the city.

"For the last six weeks, this has become the community which it always should've been, a beautiful, safe community where people can go out and enjoy themselves," says Mount Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong.

Chong says as a result of Operation Protect, which applied a comprehensive approach to crime reduction involving more police officers on the streets and an increased community involvement, crime is down by 35 percent.

"As kids, we used to see the police in our classrooms," says Jill Sallie, of Mount Vernon. "The kids don't have that concept anymore, so I think it's a great thing that they get used to seeing a police officer as not their enemy."

Along with an increased police presence on city streets, officials say another key element to reducing crime has been cleaning up Mount Vernon.

Since the launch of Operation Protect, crews from the Department of Public Works have been removing graffiti and cleaning local parks.

"Everybody feels they can come to a common ground and begin to feel as if everybody has a part in bringing the community up," says Public Works Commissioner Terrence Horton.

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