They're two of the largest police forces in the United States - and their officers are some of the highest-paid, as well.

As the Suffolk County Police Department celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and the Nassau County Police Department marks its 85th, Long Islanders may be comforted to know that the two departments also make our two counties one of the safest places to live in America.

A recent survey by Forbes magazine ranked Long Island as the safest "metro area'' in the country.

Police officials in both counties say state-of-the-art technology, innovation and professionalizing policing have resulted in reduced crime rates, better response times to emergency calls and a safer 21st-century Long Island.

Here's how it all started:

The Nassau County Police Department turns 85

It was a time when criminals had a new weapon in their arsenal - the automobile - so they could slip over one town line into another and disappear into the muddling maze of jurisdictions that was 1920s Nassau.

To address that problem, the county's governing body, the Board of Supervisors, formed a committee, and on April 16, 1925, formally established the Nassau County Police Department.

Eighty-five years later, the department has grown from an all-Caucasian male force of 55 reassigned town and village sheriffs into an ethnically, racially and gender diverse force of 2,568 sworn officers and a civilian force of 1,214.

READ ON: The 85-year history of Nassau's police department

The Suffolk County Police Department turns 50

As the clock ticked past midnight on Jan. 1, 1960, Jack Schelling sat in his patrol car in Islip, waiting excitedly for his first call as a Suffolk County police officer.

"Anybody on that shift probably had the same feeling," Schelling said of the anticipation he felt as a freshly minted Suffolk patrolman.

On that New Year's Day a brand new police department was born.

READ ON: The 50-year history of Suffolk's police department

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