Newsday quote – Precinct Hearing

Committees OK Nassau police precinct plan

Originally published: February 13, 2012 2:42 PM
Updated: February 14, 2012 12:48 PM

Nassau legislative committees Monday sent County Executive Edward Mangano’s police reorganization plan to the full legislature after nearly 200 residents and cops rallied against the proposal to downgrade four of the county’s eight precincts as a cost-saving measure.

Angry residents packed the legislature’s meeting chambers before three Republican-controlled legislative committees voted 4-3 along party lines. But even some GOP lawmakers expressed reservations about the proposal, which would cut 100 police jobs and turn four station houses into “community policing centers” staffed by two officers.

Earlier, police, county residents and public officials rallied outside, holding signs reading, “Save our police precincts,” and “Keep Nassau County safe.”

VIDEO: Mangano aims to revamp Nassau PD

MORE: Map: The plan | Database: Nassau salaries

Three of the four Republicans on the Public Safety Committee said they would vote for the plan to move it forward but hoped their questions would be answered before the full legislature meets on Feb. 27 to consider it. The proposal will need 10 votes in the 19-member legislature, and the nine Democratic lawmakers say they will oppose it.

“I urge everybody to make sure you get to the table,” Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said to the unions and the Mangano administration. “Work around this so there will be no closings, so we can keep the precincts the way they are — but there are sacrifices that have to be made.”

Franklin Square resident Karen Martin, who lives in the Fifth Precinct, said she is a conservative Republican and accused GOP lawmakers of “acting more like President [Barack] Obama” than Republicans.

“Don’t pick on the police department and the military. Don’t you know that? I want to know where I can go get my gun license. I will police my own house,” Martin said.

Mangano says the plan would save $20 million a year by eliminating 100 police department employees and downgrading Elmont‘s Fifth Precinct, Baldwin‘s First Precinct, Levittown‘s Eighth Precinct and Manhasset‘s Sixth Precinct to “community policing centers,” staffed by two officers around the clock. He would reassign 48 desk cops to neighborhood crime prevention and keep all current patrols.

The savings depend on higher-paid officers taking retirement. But if officers have to be laid off, police brass testified that Nassau will save only $11 million annually; the legislature’s nonpartisan office of budget review says the savings would be less than $9 million annually if layoffs occur.

Budget review, which puts the savings at $12.2 million this year if higher-paid officers retire, also said Mangano’s savings did not account for 10 years of borrowing costs to pay severance.

Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said, “It will be decade before we see the actual $20 million in savings.” After the budget review office estimated the savings would amount to about $34 a year per household, “You’re talking about causing havoc for $34 a household.”

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