Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has
'Is this the Eighth Precinct?" a man clutching a stack of papers asked two officers inside the building in Levittown Monday.
"No," an officer replied, with a smile. "This is Second South."
Second South? The officer was joking because there is no such designation -- although there was no longer any Eighth Precinct either.
The big Eighth Precinct sign came down Friday. What remains are two smaller signs reading "Nassau County Police Department."
Staffing at the Levittown building began shrinking over the weekend, as the police department put the final touches on the first in a series of consolidations.
By Monday, the consolidation was complete, a day earlier than scheduled. Most of the Eighth's staff had been relocated north, to a newly expanded Second Precinct in Woodbury.
A tentative schedule calls for the remaining six Nassau precincts to fold into three by Nov. 1.
"It went off without too many glitches," Thomas Krumpter, the department's first deputy police commissioner, said Monday. "We made corrections where we had to."
One issue: Officers signing on and off duty crammed the new precinct's telephone lines. The officers now use email from patrol car computers to relieve the congestion problem.
Another: The Second is now handling more work, and with a larger ratio of officers to brass.
The new plan was put to the test Monday. A standoff with a Levittown resident who refused to let in officers who had been asked to check on his welfare put two schools on lockdown. Also, an accident on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, in the northern portion of the precinct, drew police resources.
"It worked," Krumpter said, with sector cars from the old Eighth Precinct responding in Levittown and cars from the old Second Precinct responding to the accident. "We've always said that the sector cars would remain the same."
But what about residents who, unaware of the changes, went to the old Eighth Precinct for help?
A woman said she'd stopped by the station house six months ago to talk to police about what she called "a matter." Officers helped her then, and officers helped her Monday when she returned with more questions, she said.
The man with the stack of papers, who like other precinct visitors I talked to in Levittown and Woodbury did not want his name used, hurried inside to take care of business before hurrying out again. (Station houses, big or small, do not invite long stays.)
He said officers helped him, too, before insisting that he move his truck, which was blocking the entrance.
Does that make the consolidation a success? So far -- with some adjustments -- so good, Krumpter said, although union officials remain concerned about staffing levels in Levittown, especially on weekends.
Time will tell.