Steven Skrynecki of the Nassau County police department talks about...

Steven Skrynecki of the Nassau County police department talks about the arrests of up to 20 alleged suspects in a heroin drug bust during a news conference at federal court in Central Islip. (March 13, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Nassau's top uniformed cop and the head of the police supervisors union are among the 98 officers who filed retirement papers as part of an incentive meant to save the cash-strapped county $23.2 million a year.

But the two men, Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki and Superior Officers Association president Lt. Gary Learned, were granted deferrals to stay on the job for several more months, county officials said.

They ultimately could decide not to retire, but that would mean giving up the incentive: $1,000 for each year of employment, and severance pay of up to 2 1/2 times their salaries. Nassau normally caps severance at twice salary.

The latest incentive, the third offered by Nassau since 2009, is a crucial part of County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to save money by converting half of the eight police precincts to lower-staffed community policing centers.

Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said Skrynecki and Learned are needed for continuity during precinct realignments and labor negotiations.

"We've had a lot of turnover in the brass of the police department," he said, and "it just makes sense with all the people that are leaving."

Two others, Det. Lt. John May and Det. Roger Paganuzzi, were granted deferrals until Sept. 22 because they are part of an ongoing investigation.

Skrynecki, on the force since 1974, said he's staying to ensure the precinct plan goes smoothly and says he has no plans to leave come Sept. 22, when his deferral expires. "But I'd like to preserve the potential for me, although I do not expect to take advantage of that at this point," he said.

Learned, an officer since 1977, said he got the deferral to June 21 to finish labor negotiations and stay for the precinct changeovers. He said he plans to retire afterward. Learned said he feels "an obligation to not walk out on the union."

The 94 others who accepted the incentive had to file papers by March 12 and leave by March 22. The cops' total payouts -- incentive plus severance pay for unused time off, sick days and night differential pay -- hasn't been calculated, the county comptroller's office said. They include former Chief of Detectives Jay Caputo, former head of the Seaford-based Seventh Precinct Mary Blanthorn, and former head of the narcotics and vice squad Det. Lt. Andrew Fal.

As previously reported, other incentive beneficiaries include Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan and Deputy Chief John Hunter, who have been indicted on charges that they gave special treatment to a police benefactor's son. They have pleaded not guilty.

In a voluntary incentive, "we can't select who gets it based on like or dislike, possible charges or not, possible guilt or innocence, because it's unlawful to do it in that manner," Mangano said this week.

Flanagan and Hunter's attorneys said their clients had plans before the indictments to retire.

Latest videos