Vote on Nassau precinct closings postponed
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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has postponed Monday's scheduled legislative vote on his plan to realign police precincts, citing "fruitful" discussions with law enforcement unions.
The vote on whether to convert four precincts into lower-staffed community policing centers was rescheduled for next Monday.
Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said Sunday that the administration has been engaged in round-the-clock negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association and the Superior Officers Association regarding public safety and budgetary concerns stemming from Mangano's plan.
"The PBA and SOA have negotiated with the county executive throughout the weekend," Walker said. "The discussions were progressive. Accordingly, the vote will be recessed for one week."
Neither Walker nor PBA president James Carver would characterize the nature of the negotiations or whether it could lead to the precinct plan being modified or eliminated.
"The goal is to address public safety and budgetary concerns connected with the precinct plan," Carver said.
The PBA had previously asked Mangano to put his plan on hold to allow for more research on its impact.
Police labor unions have adamantly opposed Mangano's plan, contending it would put residents at risk for higher crime and could lead to longer response times.
Mangano has offered an incentive package to entice police to retire voluntarily. But he has not ruled out layoffs if enough officers do not take the deal.
Last week, Democratic legislators vowed to scuttle a vote to fast-track the incentive package, which they hoped would force a delay in the precinct vote.
The PBA has lobbied Legis. Joseph Belesi (R-Farmingdale), a retired Nassau County officer who some have speculated could be a swing vote. Belesi has previously said he was undecided about the proposal, saying last week that "We'll have to see what happens."
A spokeswoman for Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) did not respond to a request for comment. Republicans have a 10-9 advantage in the legislature.
"We look forward to working with the county executive and appreciate his willingness to . . . find a bipartisan, mutually agreeable solution that both protects the public safety and produces substantive savings -- goals that we all agree on," said Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).
Walker said the delay had nothing to do with legislative concerns and the "expectation" is to move forward with the legislation in the full legislature next Monday. If it had come to a vote Monday, he said, the measure would have passed.
The realignment would downgrade Elmont's Fifth Precinct, Baldwin's First Precinct, Manhasset's Sixth Precinct and Levittown's Eighth Precinct to community policing centers. Administration officials say public safety would not be compromised and the same number of officers would be on patrol.
The community policing centers would be staffed by two officers, but would not handle criminal processing or administrative paperwork.
Mangano says his proposal would save $20 million a year by shedding more than 100 administrative jobs, including about 90 held by uniformed officers, and reassign 48 desk officers to neighborhood crime prevention.
Precinct reorganization plan pros, cons
Proponents and critics of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's police realignment plan offer conflicting analysis of the proposal's impact on the county budget and on public safety.
The plan would save Nassau $20 million annually by cutting 100 administrative positions, including about 90 held by uniformed officers, through a voluntary retirement incentive and natural attrition.
Public safety would improve by reassigning 48 officers from desk jobs to neighborhood crime prevention.
Eight precincts are no longer needed because police vehicles are equipped with such high-tech equipment that they have become mobile commands.
The same 177 police cars will continue to patrol Nassau at all times.
Opponents counter that:
Mangano's savings are inflated. They point to findings by the independent Office of Legislative Budget Review that the plan depends on higher paid officers taking the incentive. The county would also have to borrow to pay severance costs.
There will not be any more police officers on patrol than there are currently because the 48 crime prevention officers would be moved to desk jobs at community policing centers.
Local communities would no longer get the same attention from police because commanding officers would be responsible for twice as many neighborhoods, schools and civic associations.
With police on assignment miles away, response times for emergency calls could increase.
Compiled by Robert Brodsky