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| October 25, 2004
Republican Delegation Proposes Amendments to County Executive Suozzi's 2005 Budget
The Republican Delegation of the Nassau County Legislature is urging County Executive Tom Suozzi to increase funding to hire additional police officers. Public safety concerns in Nassau County are reaching an all time high as gangs and violent crimes spread to all portions of the county. The proposed budget does not fully address the growing need for additional police officers. "Nassau County has experienced a substantial financial boost from sales tax revenues. If the County Executive refuses to give breaks to the taxpayers through the elimination of unnecessary fees, then he should be pumping additional funds into manpower and further modernization of the Nassau County Police Department," said Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa).
Over the past year, Nassau County has experienced a frightening increase in gang activity. Increased levels of violent crimes have plagued communities from Elmont to Farmingdale. A study of gang activities over a two and a half week period in September 2004 shows that there were nine violent incidents throughout Nassau County including two gang affiliated murders. These incidents, which occurred in eight separate Legislative Districts, illustrate the fact that gang infestation has reached a critical level in all communities in Nassau County. Currently there are only two detectives assigned to the gang unit. "We need to infiltrate these gangs if we ever hope to eradicate them. With the current staffing levels, the police department is unable to take the proactive stance that is needed to deter young people from running with gangs and entering into a life of violence," added Legislator John J. Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream).
The Republican Delegation is proposing to amend the County Executive's 2005 budget to increase the police department's dedication to stopping the spread of gangs through Nassau County. "The Suozzi administration has stated that a police force of 2650 is optimum to protect Nassau County and its 1.3 million residents. This is not enough. An additional three hundred officers on top of the 2650 number is needed to properly combat these new dangers that are establishing themselves all over Nassau County," stated Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) who is the ranking member of the Public Safety Committee of the Legislature. In addition to the three hundred additional police officers, the gang unit of the Nassau County Police Department needs to be significantly upgraded. The two detectives in the unit are overburdened in their responsibilities and need help. "It is the purpose of this amendment that Police Commissioner Lawrence dedicates and trains 75-100 uniformed officers and detectives to battle the growing gang problem. Two detectives battling what is obviously a very real and expanding threat is a joke. They need help, and they need it now," said Minority Leader Schmitt.
In addition to amendments regarding police department staffing, the Republican delegation proposes to add $1 million to the Nassau County Parks system. This additional funding will upgrade the infrastructure of the struggling parks system. In the past year, the County Executive awarded contracts to private day camps to operate in county parks. He concluded that the parks system needed the additional revenues. This amendment will allow the County to upgrade its parks system while remaining open for the residents of Nassau. "This boost in funding will allow the parks to upgrade their infrastructure and avoid future problems with unapproved contracts to vendors who monopolize our park system," added Legislator Norma L. Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).
The Republican Minority is also proposing an amendment to increase the funding of the Nassau County Youth Board by $1 million. This additional funding will allow the Youth Board to restore many of the programs that were scaled back or eliminated during the past three years. Youth, drug and alcohol, and child development programs will all benefit from the increased levels of funding. "These programs have been scaled back for too many budgets. Nassau County is now on firm fiscal footing and we should be looking to reinvest in these important programs. Increasing funding to these youth programs will also combat the influx of gang activity in Nassau County through education and awareness," added Legislator Edward P. Mangano (R-Bethpage).