New Republican County Executive Edward Mangano this week promoted a police inspector who clashed in the past with a Democratic Nassau lawmaker and demoted a chief who presided over the former administration's unpopular merger of the police garage into the public works department.
With Mangano's approval, Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey promoted Insp. Rick Capece to a one-star chief of patrol and demoted three-star Chief Kevin Lowry to assistant chief and transferred him to homeland security.
Capece, who had been commanding officer of the First Precinct, was transferred last year after he disagreed with Legis. Joe Scannell (D-Baldwin) over redevelopment of the precinct's building and supported Scannell's Republican challenger, Chris Browne.
Lowry was in charge of former Democrat County Executive Thomas Suozzi's consolidation of the police mechanics into the public works department. The move, touted as a money-saver, angered the mechanics, who worked in Mangano's legislative district and donated to his campaign.
While Mangano approved the personnel moves, he did not direct them, both Mulvey and Mangano's spokesman Michael Martino said Wednesday. They also denied that politics played a role.
"This has everything to do with providing the best police service possible," Martino said.
But Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) said, "This clearly looks and smells like politics." He added, however, that Capece and Lowry are "both top-notch."
Mulvey, who said Mangano has asked him to stay on as police commissioner, said he transferred Capece last year "because there was friction between him and Scannell's office." He said Capece earned his promotion by overseeing a large crime reduction in the Fourth Precinct. Capece's salary will increase by $5,658, to $171,942.
Lowry was demoted and transferred because the garage consolidation is being dismantled, Mulvey said. "Operationally the consolidation has failed," Mulvey said, explaining ambulance and patrol cars were out of service too long for repairs. "It didn't save any money."
Lowry's salary will be reduced by $23,267, to $193,408 annually.
Mulvey said he had made several other promotions, which angered PBA president James Carver.
"They downsized the department last year and downsized some of our [police] details," Carver said. "To promote chiefs without restoring the details that directly affect public safety and quality of life in Nassau County is the wrong thing to do at this time."