Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has Show More
Nassau County isn't going to assume control over police departments in Hempstead and Freeport villages.
It's just not going to happen because Nassau can't act unilaterally. Such a change would require input and approval by all the municipalities.
All of which makes a report on "the consolidation of police departments in the Village of Freeport and the Village of Hempstead with the Nassau police department," according to the cover sheet on letterhead from Richard "Bo" Dietl, chairman and chief executive of Beau Dietl ... Associates -- very strange indeed.
Elected officials and police brass in Hempstead and Freeport learned about the document from Newsday reporter Nicole Fuller instead of from Nassau -- one indication that something was amiss.
And it didn't help that, as Newsday reported last week, the cost of Dietl's personal services contract was $1,000 shy of the $25,000 threshold that would have mandated legislative scrutiny. Or that the bid by Dietl's firm wasn't the lowest of the two that Nassau received.
But the biggest red flag may be the report itself. Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, who already is investigating the county's contracting process, described it as "cut and paste."
The 13-page report is long on description -- mostly of police department jobs -- but lacks meaningful analysis. It also has a few mistakes, including tables that misplace 2014 crime statistics under 2013 headings.
Last week, Dietl said he considered the report complete and that Nassau owed him his fee -- even though Thomas Krumpter, Nassau's acting police chief, called the document a draft.
On Friday, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he had neither read Dietl's report, nor received a briefing on it from Krumpter.
Mangano said it was never the administration's intent to take over either village department. "Why would we with the financial issues we have and with everything else going on?" he said.
So what's the genesis of this mess? And who asked Dietl to explore consolidation?
Mangano said he didn't.
He said the administration instead was looking for ways to help Hempstead Village reduce its rate of serious crimes, which, Mangano noted, is higher than Nassau's.
How did Freeport get into the report's mix? Mangano said he did not know, adding that the police department, not his office, was tasked with handling the contract, which was for "a special adviser on public safety."
Mangano said he believed the police department would go back to Dietl with questions, and ultimately forward some final report to him for review.
"The idea was to gather information that then could be used as a basis for a conversation with Hempstead, with seeing about how our department could collaborate to help get the serious crime rate down, like we were able to do in Roosevelt by using county resources," Mangano said.
Had he talked to officials in Hempstead or Freeport -- who last week said they opposed consolidation and were angry that Dietl never bothered to ask them?
No, Mangano said.
"Now probably would not be productive," he said. "But we would still like to have discussions with Hempstead on how Nassau can help."