Cops seize drugs, weapons and vest

March 28, 2008 3:53:05 PM PDT
What seemed to be a routine drug and weapons raid on a home in Westchester County turned into a surprising discovery for cops. Besides drugs and a gun, they found a bullet-resistant vest that belonged to a New York court officer.

It was not a fake, but the real deal. How did the suspect get it? Police are now trying to find out.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis has more from Mount Vernon.

The raid was both troubling and encouraging at the same time. It was troubling because a police-issued bullet-proof vest made its way into the wrong hands. But it's encouraging because members of the community came forward to prompt the police action.

The search warrant was for guns and drugs, but then police say they also found a bullet-proof vest with the words "New York State Court Officer" printed on the back.

"It's a concern because it does have a law enforcement marking on it," Mount Vernon police commissioner David Chong said. "And somebody that's wearing a vest with a law enforcement marking on it and also armed with a gun, that's a concern for us."

In an early morning raid, Mount Vernon police arrested 39-year-old Kerwin Campbell. From his second-floor apartment, police seized a loaded .380-caliber handgun, ammunition, scales and a small amount of marijuana, as well as the vest.

Despite what it says, Campbell is not a court officer. He's a barber, working just blocks away from police headquarters. At the barbershop, no one would admit to knowing him.

But his arrest drew praise from the city's mayor. The investigation was started after the police department received tips about drugs and guns. Last year, Mount Vernon initiated a reward program as a way to entice the community to come forward and fight the "stop snitching" mentality that many have adopted.

"The community is beginning to have a tremendous amount more faith in our police department," Mayor Clinton Young said. "In terms of communicating what they see in the neighborhood and what they can do to make the neighborhood better."

An investigation is underway to determine if the vest was stolen or somehow purchased. Campbell is being held on drug and weapons charges.