Union leaders for Nassau's rank-and-file police officers said the county's decision to postpone a final precinct merger should be the first step toward reopening all precincts shuttered last year.
"I think it was a good move," James Carver, president of Nassau Police Benevolent Association, said at a news conference Monday in Mineola. He said the county's decision to merge eight precincts never had union support. Hopefully, he said, the latest postponement will lead to a rethinking of the entire plan.
"The union was not in favor of these mergers to begin with, and we believe not merging the First and the Seventh is a step in the right direction," Carver said, adding he plans to meet with County Executive Edward Mangano to discuss the plan. "Hopefully, going forward, they'll see about the other precincts and realize that wasn't the right thing either."
Storm flooding at the Seventh Precinct building after superstorm Sandy prompted reconsideration of the final merger, First Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas C. Krumpter said.
The merger plan, approved by the county legislature in March 2012, called for the department's eight precincts to be merged into four. The closed precincts would become lighter-staffed "community policing centers."
The Second Precinct in Woodbury absorbed the Eighth, in Levittown, last spring. The Third Precinct in Williston Park absorbed the Sixth, in Manhasset, last summer. The Fourth in Hewlett later absorbed the Fifth, in Elmont. The first three mergers have saved money and have not jeopardized public safety, Krumpter said.
Carver said the consolidations have not worked out. "What we've seen is that the community centers have become almost bare," he said. "We only have two police officers in there that cover the precinct . . . the Second, Third and Fourth Precincts have been overloaded with administrative and police work."
He said there have been an influx of calls and people waiting in the lobby of the Fourth Precinct since its merger.
Mangano "should be discussing with us going forward on how we correct the many problems that we have with the other precinct mergers," Carver said.
With William Murphy
and Matthew Chayes