The Nassau County Police Department unveiled a new police booth in Great Neck Thursday -- the first micro facility constructed in 16 years and one department officials say will enhance community policing.
The booth was dedicated with a plaque of former Nassau Police Commissioner Francis B. Looney, who was the department's top cop from 1966 to 1971 and oversaw the building of Nassau's first police booths, a network that now includes about 50.
The new booth, where officers can write reports and take bathroom breaks, was donated by the Nassau County Police Foundation at a cost of about $100,000, said Alexandra Nigolian, the foundation's spokeswoman.
The booth is at the intersection of Steamboat and Middle Neck roads on the grounds of a newly constructed 7-Eleven convenience store, owned by Great Neck-based Villadom Corp. Villadom CEO Kouros Torkan is a member of the police foundation's advisory board and facilitated the donation. The new booth, which is about 350 square feet and will be used by Third Precinct officers, replaces an older structure and includes a work station, locker room and bathroom.
Looney's widow, Mary Kay, and son, Daniel Looney, the county court trial bureau chief at the Nassau district attorney's office, attended yesterday's dedication. Francis Looney died in 2013 at age 96.
"My father, he wanted to have a professional and progressive police department to better serve the public," Daniel Looney said. "He wanted to take police from just being viewed as officers who enforce the law to who really become part of the community. He saw these police booths as a place where the community could come, they could express their concerns to police, they could speak to them."
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter called Looney an "iconic figure" in policing who "encouraged members to go to school and get educated." When Looney retired in 1971, 1,100 officers were enrolled in college, Krumpter said.