Nassau Dems: We'll block vote on cop plan

Nassau PBA president James Carver, along with members

Nassau PBA president James Carver, along with members of the Nassau PBA, community activists and firefighters, rally against the proposed closure of police precincts outside the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. (Feb. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Nassau Democrats will block a vote set for Monday on a retirement incentive package for county police -- an effort they hope will derail Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's precinct realignment plan, according to a letter obtained by Newsday.

But Republicans vow a vote on the precinct restructuring will take place Monday as planned.

In the letter to Mangano on Friday, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said his caucus will not allow the GOP to fast-track a vote on the incentive -- a critical element of the precinct plan.

Without the incentive, Abrahams said he is betting the administration will postpone the precinct vote.

"The stakes are too high to rush such a measure through to final adoption without adequate consideration," Abrahams said, calling for additional study of the incentive.

Abrahams also called on Mangano to table tomorrow's vote on the precinct changes until the incentive is fully implemented, but Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) opposes such a move.

"An early incentive program is meant to get high-salaried officers off the payroll for budget savings," Schmitt said. "The precinct realignment is meant to update the police patrol in Nassau County, which has not been done in 40 years. One has nothing to do with the other, and I support both programs."

Schmitt said there would be a vote on the precinct plan even if a vote on the incentive package was blocked.

The incentive would pay retirees $1,000 for every year of service and raises the cap on severance pay to 2 1/2 times the officer's salary. The deal could save Nassau as much as $20 million annually by encouraging higher-paid officers to retire, Mangano said.

"If the Democrats withhold their votes, all they will accomplish is keeping more cops behind desks and less on our streets," said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin. "Each day that occurs, they will be costing taxpayers the price of 100 additional paychecks."

Mangano's proposal calls for the reduction of more than 100 desk jobs, including about 90 held by uniformed officers, by converting four precincts into lower-staffed community policing centers.

Republicans had planned to bring the incentive to the full legislature Monday through "emergency consideration," a tactic that allows it to avoid first passing through committee. But the maneuver requires a supermajority of 13 votes, for which they would need three Democrats. The precinct plan has already been approved by three committees.

The legislative delay creates logistical hurdles for the administration. The incentive would now be voted on by the Rules Committee on March 5 and by the full legislature on March 19. The incentive, as it is currently drafted, is available to officers only until March 22.

Mangano has the authority to extend the incentive until Aug. 1 but it's unclear if he will take that step.

Police officials are unlikely to file their retirement paperwork unless the incentive has been approved by the legislature, said Nassau County Detectives' Association president Glenn Ciccone.

"This could have negative ramifications for the whole deal," Ciccone said. "Some members may get scared off and not put in their papers."

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