Mount Vernon police commissioner fires Deputy Commissioner Spiezio
In a surprise move Thursday, Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Shawn Harris fired the Deputy Commissioner Joe Spiezio.
The firing comes a day after he was ticketed for driving a city vehicle on a suspended license.
Spiezio may have been only been paid $1 a year for his largely ceremonial post as deputy police commissioner, but his sphere of influence was vast. This was largely due to his close relationship with Mayor Richard Thomas.
On Thursday, Harris fired Spiezio for his run-in with New Rochelle police over the weekend when he was ticketed for driving on a suspended out-of-state license. Police pulled Spiezio over after watching him drive a city-owned $70,000 SUV and using lights and sirens to avoid traffic.
Commissioner Harris said in a statement, “Mr. Spiezio’s actions have caused irreparable damage to the department's integrity, morale and reputation. We are accountable to the people we serve."
Spiezio’s appointment to one of the top positions in the police department has been the subject of controversy in the city. Many top leaders were critical that a man who owns a garbage business with no law enforcement experience would be given the job along with a badge and a car.
When Mayor Thomas ran for office in 2015, Spiezio was by his side and one of his biggest financial backers. When he was indicted on criminal charges, Thomas turned to two Florida defense attorneys who work for Spiezio to represent him.
It’s not clear if the police commissioner consulted Thomas before terminating Spiezio, and he wasn't available to talk to the media.
The commissioner's statement said it’s his duty to ensure all members of the police department abide by a set of standards, higher than the general public.