Glen Cove has hired a new recruit to send to the police academy, as officials debate rebuilding the force.
The hire, Carlos Fernandez, was added to the City Council agenda Tuesday night as an emergency resolution because Nassau County is expected to announce a new police academy class next week, and city officials did not want to miss that window. Glen Cove officials said recruits can go to the Nassau academy at no cost, but the city has to pay if they go elsewhere.
Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton said retirements in 2012 had reduced a force of 52 to 46. "I would have loved to get the number up," Whitton said. "But I understand the constraints of the budget."
The new recruit will replace Officer Ralph Bruschini, who died this year. The city has added new officers since the retirements, and two recruits hired last year are in training at the Westchester police academy. The three recruits will bring the force to 49.
"To keep the community safe, you need staffing that's adequate," Whitton said.
Mayor Reginald Spinello, an Independence Party member who ran on the Republican line, said the police force is adequately staffed. "There's always questions of how many you need, but at this point, we put in one," Spinello said. Asked whether police staffing was at the right level, Spinello said, "I think it is."
Democrats wanted more hires. "I wish we could have done more, Chief Whitton, as far as getting in another one or two in there," City Councilman Timothy Tenke, a Democrat, said during the meeting. "I know you're shorthanded."
Sgt. David Leon, local Police Benevolent Association president, said Glen Cove needs more hires to deal with the workload and to restaff an anti-narcotics unit.
"The mayor's doing his best to work with us, but we definitely need a few more cops," Leon said. "It would help to have the manpower to go out there and be able to address everything we're dealing with."