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The selection of Nassau's new police commissioner will wait until the county and its police unions complete negotiations that could end a state control board-imposed wage freeze, County Executive Edward Mangano said Monday.
Acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who as first deputy commissioner handled labor contract-related matters -- will stay at the helm for now.
"We are in the middle of a variety of negotiations and he is qualified to handle that," Mangano said in an interview.
"We are still receiving applications for the commissioner's job but right now it is in the best interest of the county that Tom remain in his role," he said.
In December, Mangano said he would launch a nationwide search to replace former Commissioner Thomas Dale -- who resigned under pressure after he ordered police to arrest a witness in a politically charged case. Like Dale, the next commissioner must be a disciplinarian, Mangano said in December.
At that time, Mangano said the new commissioner would come from outside the department.
But the search is now on hold, as the county grapples with whether it will request a state control board to freeze union wages and step increases for a fourth year.
Last week, Jon Kaiman, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, sent letters to Mangano and police and other unions outlining parameters for potentially reaching agreements that could end the wage freeze.
It included having Nassau identify sustained revenue sources to fund compensation increases and having unions sign off on agreements not to collect pay that's been frozen since 2011.
Mangano, in his first comments on Kaiman's proposal, said, "It is good to see that he is acknowledging some of the work that is already going on, but there are some rough edges [in the plan] that need to be rounded."
He said that the administration, its unions and Kaiman are still talking. "We are in a delicate time with the wage freeze," he said.
The wage freeze, which unions are challenging in court, will expire next month unless NIFA votes to extend it.
That gives Nassau and its unions just weeks to consider Kaiman's plan, potentially amend it and reach agreements acceptable to Nassau, union membership and NIFA, which would have to approve the pacts.
Thus far, the wage freezes have saved Nassau an estimated $230 million. But county employees, some of whom have been frozen at $23,500 for three years, are getting angrier, even as union leadership presses for some resolution.
And so Krumpter will remain running the police department -- at least for now. "We are in a delicate time with the wage freeze and I don't think this is the time to make a change."
Krumpter became acting commissioner after Dr. Victor Politi -- Mangano's deputy county executive for public safety, who was named interim top cop after Dale stepped down -- was chosen to run the county's quasi-private hospital, nursing home and medical clinics.
The health care post was one of three key openings in Nassau, along with police commissioner and community college president, that Mangano controls. A second search for a new community college president was launched last week -- since the first was flawed by politics.
Mangano bristled at suggestions that Politi's selection was political as well. "He's a doctor, he's worked at the hospital, he's better qualified from the start," he said.
He said that even as the county continues negotiations with its unions and the selection process is on hold, the search for Nassau's next police commissioner will continue.