Residents of some of Nassau's most crime-ridden neighborhoods faced off with acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter Monday night in Uniondale -- in sometimes contentious exchanges -- over his controversial decision to transfer 45 plainclothes officers to patrol.
Krumpter, who spoke Monday night at a Nostrand Gardens Civic Association meeting, reiterated his previous public comments that the transfer -- including a dozen Gang Abatement Program officers who work in communities such as Roosevelt and Uniondale -- was temporary and could be adjusted.
"Summer is here; this is ill-timed," said Martha-Ann Brady, 72, a Uniondale resident. "The gangs are gonna come in and attack our children."
Krumpter, who attended the meeting with Chief of Patrol Frank Kirby, Deputy Chief of Detectives Chris Cleary and the First Precinct Commanding Officer Insp. Daniel Flanagan, directed residents to call Flanagan with crime concerns. Krumpter ticked off his cellphone number to the group, telling residents he was "more than happy to take the phone call, day or night."
"We're not gonna let up," Krumpter said. "We're not gonna abandon you."
Flanagan said an increase in communication from residents was "not going to put any more stress on me."
Krumpter -- citing department statistics showing crime countywide is down about 10 percent from a year ago, and down about 12.4 percent in the First Precinct -- told residents their neighborhoods were "exponentially safer" than in the past.
"But, quite frankly, we don't feel that," said Heidi Sanft, first vice president of the community association, citing two recent shootings and a stabbing nearby.
Krumpter countered: "How can you say that when gunshots are down 90 percent?"
About two weeks ago, Krumpter ordered the plainclothes officers -- including POP, or problem-oriented police who work closely with community groups -- to return to patrol in a cost-cutting move that department officials estimate will save about $4.4 million. The officers are set to return to plainclothes on Jan. 1, 2015.
William Lloyd, superintendent of Uniondale public schools, told Krumpter his crime statistics were "ridiculous" and the plainclothes officers shouldn't be considered a "luxury."
Krumpter retorted: "I never implied this was a luxury."
Lloyd said: "It's ridiculous to cut police officers in high-risk neighborhoods. There's nothing good that's going to come of this."
Asked by Pearl Jacobs, president of the association, if there was any "wiggle room" in the budget that would allow the immediate reinstatement of the plainclothes cops, Krumpter said: "We'll continue to look at it on a daily basis. We'll make sure we don't slide back."