Judge's move favors Suffolk cops' highway patrol

A judge has lifted a court order that barred Suffolk police officers from reclaiming patrols of the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway from sheriff's deputies.

The deputy sheriffs union obtained a temporary restraining order last month in state Supreme Court after county lawmakers approved a new police union contract awarding highway patrols to officers. Justice Peter H. Mayer rescinded the order Tuesday, and Thursday he denied deputies' request for a new order.

It was unclear Thursday night whether the sheriffs union would appeal. President Anthony Prudenti did not return calls for comment, and aides to County Executive Steve Bellone said they didn't know if the union would appeal.

Administration officials offered to negotiate with deputies to ensure a smooth transition.

"We're making every effort to resolve this in an orderly way, with the understanding that the legislature voted unanimously for a contract that returned the police to the highway," said Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider,

In returning highway patrols to police, Bellone dismissed a 2011 agreement that former County Executive Steve Levy had reached with the deputies union. Under the pact, the county promised not to replace sheriffs on the highways through 2017 if deputies deferred half of the retroactive pay raises they were owed.

Sheriff's Chief of Staff Michael Sharkey said that, as of Thursday night, he had not been informed of an imminent changeover.

Police Benevolent Association president Noel DiGerolamo said he didn't anticipate a "prolonged time frame" for turning patrol duties over to police.

"The police department, on more than one occasion, has stated that they are fully staffed, equipped and prepared to take over on an hour's notice," DiGerolamo said.

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