From the Desk of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton
I am as concerned as anyone this week. I was already concerned last year, while I was seeking election to the Nassau County Legislature. At that time the county executive said he was considering closing two police precincts. Now the reality is that he is calling for four precincts to be closed - halving the number of precincts in our county.
Break-ins and vandalism have been an ongoing problem in our Legislative District. Within the greater area, we have seen prescription drug killings, senior home invasions, armed robberies and other serious crimes.
It is questionable that the best way to cut costs right now is to cut any of the support we give law enforcement.
It is even more questionable whether or not taxpayers will ever see the savings that the county executive is claiming will come from this. Other cuts have been announced by the county executive or his counterpart in the Legislature and we have yet to see any savings... or the savings have been nowhere near what they originally claimed.
Taxes certainly have not gone down. They will not go down as a result of these police cuts. What does keep going down is what residents actually get for the taxes they pay.In this case, 100 less police officers.
As far as how Mangano’s announcement affects this area, the 2nd Precinct will stay open. It includes Lattingtown, Bayville, Oyster Bay and Bayville.
The 6th Precinct, however, which covers Sea Cliff, Glen Head and Greenvale, is to be turned into a “Community Policing Center,” where instead of almost 40 police officers, only two “POP cops” (Problem Oriented Police) would now be on duty 24 hours a day.
After Mangano’s announcement, I sat down with him and new police commissioner Thomas Dale, along with neighboring Legislator Wayne Wink and our Minority Leader in the Legislature, Kevan Abrahams. The county executive and police commissioner promised us that residents would see no change in service.
Our Democratic caucus questions this. Police leaders are telling us that taking precincts away sends a message to criminals – it diminishes the presence of law enforcement.
I have asked the county executive for proof that the response time of police will not be any different after these changes go through. Regardless, we believe the cuts will affect public safety. He is talking about having two officers alone in a “community building” where we used to have 38 law enforcement professionals in a police station full of police vehicles and staff.
It is very hard to imagine that public safety should be a target in this way when it comes to saving money. I know for a fact that there are many other ways the county executive and his majority in the Legislature could be saving money without potentially putting their constituents in danger.
I welcome any input from community leaders and residents. There will be hearings at the County Legislature, so, if you feel strongly, I encourage you to come and speak. Or send me a statement to give to County Executive Mangano and Majority Leader Schmitt about the police precinct closings.