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Commissioner: New Nassau police facility back on front burner

A rendering of a new Nassau County Center

A rendering of a new Nassau County Center for Training and Intelligence. Acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said on Monday, July 24, 2017, that constuction on the project could start later this year. Credit: Spector Group

Construction on a new police training academy and intelligence center for the Nassau County Police Department, delayed for more than two years, could finally begin later this year in Garden City, officials said Monday.

Nassau County on Friday issued a request for proposals for the construction of the three-story, 92,000-square-foot building to house the department’s training academy and intelligence center — currently located in a leased 1950’s-era former school building in Massapequa Park.

The ambitious project — announced in 2015 with a 2017 completion date that came and went — has been downsized from an initial 100,000 square feet and a $40 million price tag, said Nassau Acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, who officially took the helm of the department last week.

Plans for a new academy, which will also serve as a regional training hub for the county’s 17 village and two city police departments, were delayed as a series of other construction projects — including the rebuilding of police precincts — took precedence, Ryder said.

The commissioner acknowledged it took “a lot of work” to piece together funding for the project, which is being paid for with a combination of taxpayer funds, police department asset-forfeiture funds — money seized from criminal defendants — and donations raised by the nonprofit Nassau County Police Department Foundation.

“We stumbled a little bit in the beginning,” Ryder said. “We are totally, 100 percent transparent in everything . . . We got this off to a slow start. Now we’re off and we’re running.”

Ryder said the projected cost of the building construction has decreased from the initial $40 million estimate, but he declined to give an updated cost figure, citing the current open bidding process, which closes Aug. 29.

The Nassau legislature would have to approve the project before construction could commence.

The legislature’s Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), said in a statement: “We have been committed to ensuring our future police have the tools they need to succeed, protect and serve the residents of Nassau and we believe this helps do just that.”

Alexandra Nigolian, executive director of the police foundation, said it has committed $3.5 million to the project and will “continue to raise funds.”

The foundation has already spent $2.6 million on the architectural planning — completed by Manhattan-based Spector Group — for the three-story building to be located on about 10 acres overlooking the Meadowbrook Parkway on land adjacent to Nassau Community College.

Spector, in a statement, described the building exterior as presenting a “strong and powerful message” with large slabs of pre-cast concrete baring “NCPD” and the department shield, which will be illuminated at night.

In addition to providing a modern training facility for its approximately 2,500 sworn officers, the community will also benefit, Ryder said, with access provided to the community college for its criminal justice program and the expansion of other department initiatives such as youth basketball and its civilian and youth police academies.

Construction on the building is expected to take about two years, officials said. Later, phases of the project are slated to include an emergency vehicle operations course and a village streetscape, allowing for simulation training in active shooters, drug raids and barricade situations.

“Officer Breitkopf, Officer Lopez, Officer Olivieri, Officer Califano,” said Ryder, ticking off the names of officers killed in the line-of-duty in recent years. “If we better trained in real life settings, maybe, maybe they’d be alive today. We hope the tactical village will bring us to a point where we can make our cops safer.”

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