Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is considering beefing up the number of officers at planned community policing centers to satisfy concerns from police unions and Democrats before a vote on the proposal set for Monday, administration officials said.
The GOP-controlled legislature on Monday delayed a vote on the plan, which would downsize four of Nassau's eight precincts to community policing centers, because Legis. Joseph Belesi (R-Farmingdale) was hospitalized.
The administration, unions and Democrats confirmed Tuesday that they are negotiating to increase staffing at the four proposed policing centers: Elmont's Fifth Precinct, Baldwin's First Precinct, Manhasset's Sixth Precinct and Levittown's Eighth Precinct.
Mangano's original plan called for two desk officers to be stationed around the clock at the policing centers, instead of the current complement of 4. Special operations, robbery and highway patrol units also would be stationed at the centers.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said negotiations with the unions are focused on "staffing efficiencies" at the centers but declined to elaborate.
Democrats want a significantly increased police presence at the centers before they will consider voting for Mangano's precinct plan, said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). Democrats oppose the current reorganization plan out of concern that it would jeopardize public safety,
"I am confident that . . . we will be able to agree on a plan that not only achieves significant savings, but also continues ensuring our residents' safety," Abrahams said.
PBA president James Carver and Superior Officers Association president Gary Learned said they are meeting with administration and police officials this week over staffing concerns. While police unions continue to oppose Mangano's reorganization plan, contending it fails to protect the public, the staffing changes would "make it more palatable" and "mitigate the damage," Learned said.
Carver and Learned stressed that they will not negotiate givebacks from their members' contracts to preserve the precinct structure.
Mangano, who will be in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Wednesday through Friday for a campaign fundraiser, says his precinct proposal would save $20 million annually by shedding more than 100 administrative jobs, including about 90 held by uniformed officers. He would reassign 48 desk officers to neighborhood crime prevention.
Nassau is facing a $310 million budget deficit.
One county lawmaker who had expressed reservations about the plan -- Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) -- said Tuesday that she supports it after talking to Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Dale. "I was able to get the answers I needed to make sure in my mind that public safety is not being compromised; that services are not being curtailed," Gonsalves said.
With Celeste Hadrick