Eight of the 45 Nassau County plainclothes police officers transferred to uniformed patrol duty in May -- part of a plan to save $4.4 million in overtime -- returned to plainclothes work in the past few weeks, said Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
The move reverses, in part, the controversial transfer -- designed to satisfy minimum-staffing requirements and save on rising police overtime -- that elicited criticism from community groups concerned the lack of plainclothes officers would result in crime increases.
"Despite the hysteria of some, crime did not explode," said Krumpter, announcing the transfers and citing police statistics indicating all crime is down this year by 9.4 percent from the same period last year. He declined to give a specific reason for the staffing change, but said he "constantly" monitors crime trends and department finances. He had said in May that the transfers would likely be reversed by December.
Krumpter said the department is on track to cut an estimated $17 million from its expected overtime budget this year due to several initiatives.
James Carver, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, praised the transfers, but said it's imperative the other transferred officers are restored to plainclothes work.
"It's a good start," Carver said. Krumpter "realized the longer . . . [criminals] go unchecked, there's more of a possibility things can brew. There's a lot of crime out there that went undetected because the plainclothes guys weren't out there and able to arrest them," he said.
Separately, another 11 patrol officers moved in September to the department's Bureau of Special Operations, which responds to hostage standoffs and active shooting incidents. That brings the number of BSO officers to 88, Krumpter said.
The transfer was part of a negotiated deal between the department and the union, Carver said.
Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said he's "thankful for whatever reductions in cuts I can receive," but stressed he's still looking for a reversal of the 2012 precinct consolidation plan, which saw the old Fifth Precinct in his district absorbed into the Fourth in Hewlett and replaced with a lighter-staffed community policing center. "Our community doesn't have what it once had," Solages said. "We still don't have the number of specialized units that we had before."
Officials still have not determined whether to go through with the last piece of the consolidation plan, to merge Baldwin's First Precinct with the Seventh in Seaford, which was postponed indefinitely last year, Krumpter said.