March 7, 2012
NEW COMMUNITY POLICING PLAN FOR NASSAU COUNTY
MAINTAINS PUBLIC SAFETY AND SAVES TAXPAYERS MONEY
On Monday March 5, 2012 I voted to approve a new Community Policing Plan for Nassau County. The plan eliminates desk jobs, puts more problem oriented police (“POP”) officers into the community, and saves taxpayers up to $20 million a year. Under the new plan, the exact same number of police officers will be patrolling the exact same areas. These officers will change shifts in the community as they do now, and will continue to have 911 calls routed directly to their patrol cars. Residents will get the same services from the policing centers that they get from precincts now. A Newsday editorial that sums up some of the positive features of the plan may be found here: http://www.newsday.com/opinion/editorial-positive-step-for-nassau-cops-1.3580905
Unfortunately, there have been some who have spread factually incorrect information about the plan. In an effort to provide residents with as much detail as possible, I have compiled the following questions and answers based on information from the hearings and inquiries from interested residents in our legislative district.
What precincts are being converted into community policing centers?
- Under the plan the 3rd precinct in Williston Park remains open as a precinct. The precincts that are being converted to community policing centers are the 1st, 5th, 6th and 8th. The first precinct scheduled to be converted is the 8th, which is the county executive’s own precinct.
Does the community policing center endanger public safety?
- No. The plan enhances public safety by moving police from behind desks into the community. The plan eliminates 39 back office positions in each of the four precincts to be converted into policing centers. The police personnel that fill these positions are prohibited by contract from leaving the precincts. They answer no police calls.
- The plan adds 48 POP (problem oriented police) officers back into the communities to supplement patrols.
- The eliminated positions include supervisors and other sworn police officers. The annual cost of each of the desk position to be eliminated averages $200,000 in salary and benefits.
Will there be any change in how police patrol our neighborhoods?
- No. There is no change in the number of police patrolling our communities or the area that they patrol. There will still be 177 officers in patrol cars each shift in Nassau patrolling the exact same zones. There will also be 48 more POP officers who will provide additional police presence in the community.
- Police officers will continue to change shifts in the neighborhoods they patrol as they do now, and not at the precincts.
How much does the county save under the plan?
- The plan saves county taxpayers up to $20 million annually. The plan eliminates 156 back office positions with an average salary and benefits costing $200,000 and puts 48 officers back into the street.
- The savings in 2012 will be less because part of the year has already passed. Also, if layoffs are necessary, there will be termination costs in 2012.
Will there continue to be police at the community policing centers?
- Yes. Police will be present at the community policing centers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Six restricted duty officers will be assigned to each community policing center. There will also be special units, including a special unit supervisor, assigned to the community policing centers. For example, the highway bureau will be moved into the community policing center (currently the 6th precinct) in Manhasset. Police cruisers will continue to stop at the community policing centers to refuel.
- Residents will still be able to go to the community policing centers 24 hours a day, 7days a week to report a crime, pick up an accident report and get fingerprinted for employment. The operation will be similar to what exists now minus the 39 back office jobs.
Will the plan change the time it takes for police to respond to a call?
- No. 911 calls do not go to precincts. The calls go to the 911 call center in New Cassel and then go to a patrol car in your neighborhood. All 177 patrol cars will continue to patrol the exact same zones.
Will there be delays in processing arrests?
- No. Travel time is a very small part of the time required to process an arrest.
- Currently it takes an average of 7 hours for an officer to process an arrest. This includes 4-5 hours to actually process the arrest plus a contractually mandated hour and half lunch and two 15 minute breaks. Driving several more minutes to a precinct or police headquarters will have little effect on the overall time.
When was the last time that the Nassau County Police Department precinct organization was changed?
- The eight precinct structure was established in the 1970s. Much has changed in the county in the last 40 years. As the county has developed the workload of some precincts has sharply increased and diminished in others. Currently, three of the precincts have a heavier workload than the other five combined.
- Although the workload is unevenly spread among the precincts, police contracts require that each precinct have the same 39 back office desk jobs.
- Over the last ten years taxpayers have invested over $194 million for police technology expenses that have truly made each police car a mobile precinct.
- In addition to creating the community policing centers, the county plans to expand the arrest processing facilities at police headquarters on Franklin Avenue.
I hope this information helps to clear up any misconceptions about the precinct realignment plan. As always, feel free to contact me with any thoughts and ideas you have for the county or any particular issue where I may be of assistance. My telephone number is 516-571-6209.