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Nassau County Police Academy graduation is a family affair

Nassau County Police Officer Dana Allimonos kisses her

Nassau County Police Officer Dana Allimonos kisses her 3-year-old son, Alexander as she celebrates her graduation from the Police Academy at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale Tuesday, Jan.3, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

When Matthew Meyer told his mother he wanted to be a police officer, it wasn’t a surprise.

Meyer has nearly a dozen family members who are current or former law enforcement officers. He attended his uncle’s Nassau police graduation 20 years ago.

Tuesday night, Meyer accepted his own certificate at the Nassau County Police Academy graduation, but also received a fitting graduation present: his uncle and former Nassau officer Dan McKenna’s badge.

“Taking his badge is the biggest thing for me, keeping it in the family,” Meyer, 25, said.

Meyer was one of 181 graduates presented with certificates at the ceremony at LIU Post in Greenvale. About 15 percent of this year’s graduating class had a family member who is an active member of law enforcement, said department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun.

“Remember to stay close to your families,” Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki said during the ceremony. “They have supported your efforts so far and you will need them.”

Nassau County Police Officer Don Coupe made the career change from business owner to police officer in 1995 because he had always respected the county police. Tuesday, he watched his daughter Taylor, 23, graduate and prepare to start her new career with the Second Precinct.

Taylor Coupe always knew she wanted to follow her father into law enforcement. She graduated in 2015 from SUNY Potsdam with a degree in criminal justice and joined the police academy this year.

“My father inspired me, just always watching him coming home and having integrity and good character,” Coupe, a Suffolk County resident, said.

County Executive Ed Mangano thanked the graduates for their commitment, adding there is always a need for more police officers.

“They will put their lives on the line each day they put on that uniform,” he said.

Many of the officers were bound for the county police force, though 25 graduated to jobs in the sheriff’s department and village and city departments.

Acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the new recruits are “sorely needed” to balance losses from high numbers of retirements. In January alone, 40 officers are expected to retire.

Even with the losses, however, Krumpter said the number of officers now on the street has reached 2,440, the highest in eight years.

“Never forget we are the guardians of public safety,” he told the county’s newest officers. “It is a great responsibility.”

Meyer said he is eager to get to work and continue his family’s legacy. He worked for 18 months as an NYPD officer but made the switch to Nassau because he wanted to be closer to home.

“It’s about just making a difference and trying to help my community,” he said.

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