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The Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association has launched a television and radio ad campaign meant to improve officers' image, even though their existing contract extends through 2018 and there aren't county elections this year.
The ads, which began running in mid-May, tout police volunteerism and work in the community, teaching self-defense and anti-bullying classes.
"Public employees are not the public enemies as the media tends to make us appear," Suffolk PBA president Noel DiGerolamo said in an interview.
He wouldn't disclose the amount spent on the ad buy, but said, "We're prepared to spend whatever it takes educating the public about who we are and what we do to show the significant impact we have on peoples' lives."
The ads are paid for by the union's public education campaign, which is funded through union dues, he said.
"The problem we're faced with today, the PBA and police officers have been vilified for years, by the previous administration and other elected officials," DiGerolamo said. "We need to educate the public about the reality, that we are partners with the community, not opponents. And that message costs a significant amount of money because we don't own a newspaper or a cable news channel."