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Mulvey, Nassau's top cop, to retire

Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey holds a press conference.

Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey holds a press conference. (Jan. 13, 2011) Credit: Charles Eckert

Choosing to retire and leave another round of cuts to his successor, Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey announced Thursday that he is resigning effective April 1.

Mulvey, 59, told Newsday the department will require more personnel cuts ahead of the cash-strapped county's 2012 budget - reductions he said should be made by a new commissioner who will likely preside over the fallout.

"Future cuts are going to have to happen to make 2012 work," Mulvey said. "And those decisions should be made by the next commissioner, presumably one who will be here three or more years to see them through."

In a written statement, Mulvey said, "I approach retirement very much satisfied that I have achieved what I wanted to accomplish when I accepted the job in 2007."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he will name Chief Thomas Krumpter, a top Mulvey aide, as acting commissioner.

Krumpter, Mangano said, will help determine the committee to search for the next commissioner. Mangano said he expects the committee to be in place by late spring, though he did not set a timetable for naming a successor.

"Commissioner Mulvey performed with professional excellence," Mangano said. "He brought pride and respect to the Nassau County Police Department. He has a distinguished career in law enforcement and we will truly miss Larry at the helm of the NCPD."

James Carver, president of the Nassau County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, said Mulvey struggled with Mangano's demands to reduce the department's size.

Under former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who named Mulvey commissioner in 2007, the force was reduced by 200 people. Mangano required that another 125 positions be cut last year, bringing the force to 2,475, its smallest size since the 1960s.

"He had a tough job, with the downsizing of the squad due to the economy," Carver said. "We might not have agreed all the time, but I respected him."

Mangano said he's "made it clear" the NCPD will see more trimming this year and that budget management experience will be a top priority for Mulvey's replacement. "Ensuring public safety is No. 1, and then strong fiscal management experience is very important," Mangano said.

Mulvey said the timing of his announcement was not related to the controversy over the department's crime lab, which was put on probation last December after authorities found major violations. Neither, he said, was it connected to the criticism over the police handling of the March 2009 death of Jo'Anna Bird, who was tortured and killed by her boyfriend, Leonardo Valdez-Cruz.

An internal affairs report revealed that seven officers did not properly investigate during at least four domestic-violence visits to the home where Bird was staying in the days before she was murdered.

Mulvey, of Westbury, served two stints with the department, having first retired in 2001 with the rank of inspector to become the security site manager at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

Mangano said Mulvey told him after his 2009 election that he would not likely serve out Mangano's four-year term and gave him six months' notice of his retirement.

With Joye Brown, Matthew Chayes and John Valenti

Highs and lows of Mulvey's career

The highs

- A 10.8-percent drop in crime in Nassau in 2010 compared with the year before.

- Installation of ShotSpotter, a sonic detection device that instantly pinpoints location of gunfire. Put up in 2009 in Uniondale and Roosevelt, the system is credited with catching suspects quicker, helping to discourage shootings and speeding medical care to the wounded.

- The gun buyback program, which Mulvey initially opposed. He went on to become a vigorous supporter of the program and partnered with leaders in high-crime areas to sponsor them. The buybacks netted some 1,800 guns since beginning in December 2008.


The lows

- Mulvey was grilled by Nassau legislators in 2010 after national accreditors found numerous violations in the police crime lab and singled it out as the only accredited lab in the nation on probation. Presiding officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) called the episode "a crisis of confidence" in Mulvey. Mulvey conceded he didn't know about the lab problems until days after it was put on probation. The lab has since been removed from police control and placed under the county's medical examiner.

- Department took more heat over its handling of the Jo'Anna Bird case, which involved a New Cassel woman who was murdered in March 2009 by an estranged boyfriend with a documented history of assaulting her. Seven cops were slated for discipline after a review found they didn't properly investigate during four visits to the home of the woman's mother, including one just days before the fatal stabbing, despite an order of protection. Mulvey has never revealed what the discipline was - or whether the officers were disciplined. Bird's family has a pending federal lawsuit.

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