Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has Show More
It looks like Nassau's nationwide search for a police commissioner could end in the county's own backyard.
Thomas Krumpter, the department's acting commissioner since January, is said to be the leading candidate.
This despite County Executive Edward Mangano's assertion in December that he would look outside the department for a new top cop -- one who would be a disciplinarian.
At the time, Mangano said specifically that he would not consider Krumpter for the position.
On Friday, Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin declined to comment about whether Krumpter had moved up to become Mangano's top candidate for commissioner.
But Nevin went on to praise Krumpter, a department veteran of almost 22 years, for his handling of labor negotiations with police unions -- and for other initiatives including spearheading an investigation into problems in the department's pistol licensing bureau.
"There currently is no active search for commissioner," Nevin said, although the department will keep accepting applications.
Asked about the possibility of his active status becoming permanent, Krumpter would say only, "I'll serve in whatever capacity the county executive wants me to serve."
Should he become commissioner, Krumpter would take on a department reeling from a series of blunders and scandals.
They include the corruption-related convictions of three former top brass, the shooting of an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington by an off-duty police officer, and an officer caught making multiple visits to a girlfriend during his shifts.
Last week, the Nassau district attorney's office released a report on the shooting death of Andrea Rebello, a Hofstra University student, and Dalton Smith, the armed robber who held Rebello and other students hostage in an off-campus house last May.
The report, which cleared Officer Nikolas Budimlic of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting, nonetheless opened up questions about training, the department's communications system and how Nassau police handle hostage situations.
Krumpter, citing pending civil litigation by Rebello's family, declined to answer specific questions on the shooting.
However, he noted that police dispatchers -- as a result of a meeting between the department and the Civil Service Employees Association -- would receive additional hours of training each year.
"They handle a lot of calls and they do a good job," he said. "This will enable them to keep up with technology and other issues."
Krumpter was the second Mangano administration official named as acting police commissioner after former Commissioner Thomas Dale was forced to resign in December, two years after taking the post.
Dale, who was tasked with bringing discipline back to the department, stepped down after an investigation by District Attorney Kathleen Rice disclosed that he had ordered the arrest of a campaign worker, Randy White of Roosevelt, at the request of Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle.
White had offered damaging testimony during a court hearing that later would void petitions for Andrew Hardwick, the former Freeport mayor who had attempted a third-party county executive run. Democrats said Hardwick's campaign was designed to help Republican Mangano's re-election bid by drawing black and Hispanic votes away from Democrat Thomas Suozzi.
Hardwick's campaign had one contributor -- Melius, who in February was shot outside his castle by an assailant, still at large. Hardwick and Melius -- who also contributed to Mangano's campaign -- have denied attempting to siphon votes from Suozzi, who lost his bid to retake his former post to Mangano by a lopsided margin.
Mangano appointed Victor Politi, a deputy county executive for public safety, to take Dale's place in December, while Nassau searched for a permanent replacement.
But in January, Mangano tapped Politi, a physician, as president and CEO of NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center, a nursing home and a string of community health care centers.
Politi replaced longtime NuHealth head Arthur Gianelli, who was told -- the day after Mangano's re-election -- that his contract would not be renewed.
Krumpter replaced Politi, and now probably is poised to move up to Dale's spot -- as Mangano's second police commissioner.