Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 02 March 2012 00:00
No vote was taken on Monday, Feb. 27, on the plan to close four Nassau County police precincts and convert them into Community Policing Centers.
The Nassau County Legislature’s Republican majority had hoped for such a vote, one that would close the First and Fifth and Sixth and Eighth precincts. However, according to a spokeswoman for Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa), County Executive Edward I. Mangano asked the legislature to delay the vote for at least a week, while his office remains in negotiations over unspecified issues with the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).
In addition, the spokeswoman said that Assemblyman Joseph Belesi (R-Farmingdale) had been hospitalized over the weekend and by Monday, was still undergoing testing, making him unable to attend the meeting. That, too, was cited as a reason for the postponement. Finally, the spokeswoman said that she did not know if the precinct vote could take place following the week’s delay that the county executive requested.
Prior to the Monday meeting, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) issued a letter to the county executive, declaring his caucus’s intention to block a vote on a retirement incentive program for county police officers. That package needs a supermajority of 13 votes, including at least three votes from the Democratic caucus, to be approved. According to published reports, Abrahams said that such a blockage would delay the vote on the precinct closures. However, a spokeswoman for Schmitt’s office said a vote on the precinct closures could take place without a vote on the incentive package.
In his letter, Abrahams noted that the county executive’s office has estimated that the retirement incentive program would save the county $20 million annually. Such a program, the letter continued, would “achieve all of the savings anticipated by [the] precinct closure plan and make the shuttering of any police precincts in Nassau unnecessary.” The letter also called for a “full financial analysis” of the proposed retirement incentive program to see if such savings could in fact be obtained from it.
The precinct plan had drawn much attention over the past month as the legislature moved towards a vote. In February, the PBA, which is opposed to the plan, staged a rally outside the legislative chambers.
PBA officials have said that the plan, if approved, would keep certain police officers “married to the stationhouse” instead of being on the streets, while at the same time slowing down the arrest process significantly. PBA officials also disputed claims made by Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Dale that crime has decreased.
For their part, Mangano and Republican lawmakers have noted that the plan would keep the current 177 patrol cars on the streets. Response time to police calls, they added, would not change. Overall, they said the plan would save $20 million annually, preventing, they claim, further tax increases to county residents.