Issues of adding Blake to Nassau cop brass

The NYPD's top counterterrorism boss, Michael Blake. The NYPD's top counterterrorism boss, Michael Blake. Photo Credit: NYPD

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Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has ...

The Nassau County police department has confirmed that its pool of candidates for deputy commissioner includes an NYPD commander recently cleared by a federal jury in a civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.

The vindication of Michael Blake, an NYPD veteran who was commanding officer of the counterintelligence division until July -- along with his lengthy resume and the fact that he was a colleague of former NYPD official and current Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale -- likely will keep him in the candidate pool.

But should it -- especially in a department working its way back from a series of scandals and serious missteps?

Dale pushed to change the county's administrative code because he wanted to be able to fire officers who failed to properly handle the domestic abuse case involving Jo'Anna Bird, who was later killed by her boyfriend.

Then came the case of three former high-ranking officials indicted on charges that they conspired to scuttle the probe of a high school burglary committed by a teen whose father was a financial benefactor of police.

Dale is still working to resolve the case of a married police officer who carried on with a girlfriend at her home while he was on duty, with his police car parked in the driveway.

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His message appears to be that Nassau is a department that will not tolerate misconduct. His choice of a new deputy commissioner should strengthen that message rather than potentially dilute it.

The department, other than finally confirming Blake's candidacy, hasn't said much about its selection process, criteria or timeline for announcing the new deputy commissioner.

During his trial, Blake called the allegations against him "lies." He testified that he had visited the apartment of a female subordinate a "couple of times" after work at night for mentoring and to help her prepare for a promotional exam.

James Carver, head of the county's Police Benevolent Union, questions whether that's a management style appropriate to Nassau's police department. "It could call into question whether he is right for this job," he said.

Carver also questioned whether the department -- which has been shedding cops through retirement incentives, shuttering units and consolidating precincts because of Nassau's budget crisis -- should be hiring brass at all.

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Dale and County Executive Edward Mangano, if they are seriously considering bringing Blake on, should be ready to address both points.

Dale is the second New York City cop to be named department commissioner. The first, James Lawrence, appointed under former Nassau Administrator Thomas Suozzi, found that being an outsider made the difficult job more difficult.

Dale may see Blake as a potential, trusted partner in continuing his reform of the department. To bring Blake on, Dale would have to demonstrate that Blake's background and skills are worth the potential conflict with Dale's message that department officers are supposed to be above even the appearance of impropriety.

Is Blake that guy?

Stay tuned.

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