Written by Jill Nossa Friday, 03 February 2012 00:00
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and new Police Commissioner Thomas Dale announced this week that they want to save almost $20 million by restructuring the county’s police presence.
Mangano will submit a plan to the County Legislature that would change four of Nassau’s eight police precincts into Community Policing Centers, where two officers would be on duty 24 hours a day, he said. The county executive said the restructuring would eliminate “100 desk jobs” and not change the current assignment of 177 patrol cars as they now cover neighborhoods.
Commissioner Thomas Dale, who just joined Nassau’s force about a month ago, added, “This plan saves taxpayers significant dollars while streamlining duplicative work, redistributing workload and assigning more officers to POP and special patrol… Residents should know that response time will not be impacted as police officers will remain in their current neighborhoods and additional officers will be assigned to our neighborhoods.”Critics of the plan say the savings from cutting four precincts will not be $20 million. They also say public safety will be jeopardized.
Nassau County PBA President James Carver denied the logic of Mangano’s finances, calling the proposed savings “Mangano math.” In terms of safety, he said having precincts is a crucial part of law enforcement. Carver criticized the county for spending money on “beaches” and “turf fields,” saying that shutting down stations would tell criminals that the police have gone away. He also disagreed with Dale’s claim that more officers would be on the street, saying Mangano is actually trying to push officers into retirement. Finally, he said that there were plans to spend a lot of dollars renovating the stations for the changes.
Democratic county legislators have taken issue with the plan as well. They pointed out that the proposed changes mainly affect Democrats’ districts. Several, including Wayne Wink, whose district includes Glenwood Landing and Roslyn Harbor, spoke out alongside Carver. The legislators voiced concern that other proposals to save money through cuts have not come to fruition.
Wink told reporters that the Democrats were outnumbered and would not be able to stop the proposal unless the plan involved borrowing money toward the reconstruction of precincts into community centers. If that were the case, Mangano would need a “super majority” which would include Democrats’ votes.
County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton told the Record Pilot that after the announcement she met with Mangano and Commissioner Dale. She said, “Nassau County needs to cut costs. However, along with the other members of the Minority Caucus in the Legislature, I am not convinced that this plan will truly save anywhere near the amount they are hoping. There are many variables that are being left out of the announcement, which the public has a right to hear about. I also think that — with hate crimes, vandalism and break-ins in our area — before public safety goes on the table at all, there are many other areas where current leaders could save money. My office is investigating all of this.”
There will be a hearing regarding these closures at the Nassau County Legislature.