Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Many murky questions persist in the politically charged tale of Thomas Dale's resignation as Nassau police commissioner. What's clear, though, is how quickly an elected executive can do an about-face when circumstance compels him to cut loose an underling -- even a demonstrably loyal one.
On Nov. 20, newly re-elected County Executive Edward Mangano was asked if he was considering policy changes regarding internal police probes. The context for the question, posed by Newsday, was the yearslong pattern by which county investigators found every instance of police using deadly force to have been justified.
Mangano replied: "We brought in Commissioner Dale, who did not work in the culture of the county police," referring to Dale's high-ranking, highly rated past roles in the NYPD. "And I think he's doing a fine job."
"We've given him [Dale] the power to discipline, which he's exercised," Mangano added, suggesting Dale's stewardship of the department assured honest leadership. He was asked if police would undergo a personnel shake-up as with other departments. "Crime is down 10 percent. That's their job," Mangano said, "and by all accounts they're doing that. . . . "
Barely 24 days later, Mangano announced that the summary of an investigation by District Attorney Kathleen Rice "indicates a fresh look at internal procedures is warranted" and so he'd accepted Dale's resignation after less than two years on the job. He cited -- without elaboration -- "questionable influence" in the department.
Rice cleared Dale of criminality. But she described how Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius -- then funding a county-executive candidacy by Andrew Hardwick that stood to siphon votes from Mangano's main opponent, Thomas Suozzi -- contacted Dale with a campaign-related complaint. Her probe raised questions about the advisability of Dale's role and actions police took against the target of Melius' complaint, Randy White. An NCPD sergeant served White, in custody, with a subpoena from Hardwick's campaign attorneys. Hardwick was ultimately ruled off the ballot for fraud-laced petitions. Mangano won re-election regardless -- but, it seems, not without casualties.
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