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Terrance Raynor to take reins as Mount Vernon police commissioner, mayor says

Terrance Raynor, right, leans in to talk with

Terrance Raynor, right, leans in to talk with another attendee at the swearing-in ceremony for Mount Vernon Police Department Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Richard Burke Jr. at Mount Vernon City Hall. (March 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascareñas

Terrance Raynor, the former Mount Vernon police chief and ex-top investigator for the Westchester district attorney's office, will be the next Mount Vernon police commissioner, Newsday has learned.

Raynor will take the reins of the embattled 205-member department Sunday, but will be formally introduced June 7 at City Hall, Mayor Ernie Davis confirmed Wednesday.

"He knows the city, he's from this city," Davis said, during a phone interview. "He understands that you have to build trust between the police and the community to change the perception of Mount Vernon as a city that's not safe."

Raynor, 50, was raised in Mount Vernon and came up through the ranks before retiring from the force seven years ago.

"He understands it's a partnership and that the mayor and the commissioner must work hand in hand to get the job done," explained Davis, who rules every aspect of city government with a heavy hand.

Mount Vernon City Council President Yuhanna Edwards said he had not been informed of Raynor's pending appointment, but he hailed the decision.

"It's a good choice," Edwards said. "Raynor knows the people and he knows the problems."

Raynor, who could not be reached for comment, will take the helm of a department he was a member of for 22 years, rising from patrol officer when he joined in 1984, to narcotics division detective in 1997, and commander of the patrol division in 2000. Earning a reputation as a cops' cop who knew the streets well, Raynor retired as police chief in 2006.

Raynor, who has residences in Peekskill and Mount Vernon, emerged as the favorite for the Mount Vernon commissioner's job almost immediately after Davis fired Carl Bell on Feb. 19, ending his 2 1/2-year stint as top cop.

Until April, Raynor was ensconced in the district attorney's office where he had been overseeing a staff of 35 police investigators since 2007.

Shortly after Bell's departure, Davis named retired Mount Vernon lieutenant Richard Burke, 59, as second deputy commissioner and put him in charge of the department on an interim basis. Burke restored the department's Major Crimes Squad, which had been disbanded several years ago, and sought to rebuild ties to other law enforcement agencies, especially the DA's office. Under Bell, investigators sometimes were unable to even enter Mount Vernon police headquarters, sources said.

Bell, who was appointed by Davis' predecessor, Clinton Young, in August 2010, had an increasingly strained relationship with the mayor, as the city of about 67,000 experienced a spike in homicides and shootings in 2012. Of the 10 murders last year, police only solved two -- and one of those involved reputed serial killer Lucius Crawford, who was nabbed by New York City and Yonkers police.

So far in 2013, there have been two homicides in Mount Vernon. Police have solved one of the two cases, arresting three New York City men Friday night in connection with the May 20 shooting death of Christopher Foe, 56, in the Alamo Bar. The killing of another man, found shot dead on May 16 in a parked car, has not been solved.

Moreover, several members of the department are under federal investigation for alleged ties to gang members, law enforcement sources have told Newsday. Street gangs have plagued the city in recent years and are believed to be responsible for much of the violence and drug trafficking on the city's troubled south side.

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