The Nassau County Police Department, which has faced allegations of...

The Nassau County Police Department, which has faced allegations of officer misconduct and breaches of public trust, is planning to hire a private consultant to overhaul its ethics policies and training standards. (Sept. 19, 2013) Credit: Paul Mazza

The Nassau County Police Department, which has faced allegations of officer misconduct and breaches of public trust, is planning to hire a private consultant to strengthen its ethics policies and training standards.

On Monday, the county released a request for proposals for a consultant who will review the department's ethics, rules, policies and training.

The move comes only weeks after Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale resigned amid revelations that he interjected himself into a politically charged civil case and ordered the arrest of a key witness.

Nassau police also have been involved in controversies over the 2011 shooting of an unarmed cabdriver by an off-duty officer, and the conviction of a deputy commissioner accused of misusing his position to help a police benefactor.

Newsday also reported this month that police privacy laws have allowed police to keep hidden the details of dozens of cases of alleged wrongdoing by sworn personnel.

Newsday found that more than 100 officers involved in serious misconduct cases in Nassau and Suffolk counties either remain on the job or continued working before retiring with pensions.

"The RFP was issued to fulfill our objective to increase integrity, reduce officer misconduct, increase community trust and advance the department professionalism," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who has stated that he wants to hire as commissioner a disciplinarian from outside the department.

But James Carver, president of Nassau Police Benevolent Association, said hiring a consultant is not necessary.

"We don't have an ethics problem here," he said. "One or two incidents shouldn't tarnish a whole department. I think it's a waste of money . . . Why would you want an outsider to tell us how we should be doing police work? We're one of the most successful police departments with regards to crime-fighting and our relationship with the community."

After conducting its review of police ethics standards, the consultant -- in conjunction with the department -- will be tasked with making recommendations in three areas:

Developing programs to ensure police are accountable to the community;

Implementing an "early warning system" that detects patterns of potentially problematic behavior by police staff;

Developing a "self-assessment system" that evaluates the department's performance compared to other law enforcement agencies.

"It is the department's intention to ensure the continuance of a culture of the highest ethical standards and professionalism," the RFP states.

The consultant will also develop an eight-hour training session for departmental executives and conduct a "train the trainer" seminar for designated personnel, the RFP states.

Michael Balboni, who served as a state senator and as New York State deputy secretary for public safety, said the consultant must help the department shine a light on many of the cases of police misconduct outlined recently by Newsday.

"The public needs to know more about those," said Balboni, a managing partner for Redland Strategies, a management consulting agency specializing in homeland security. "So how can you get to the point where you can talk about the process . . . without overstepping the [privacy] prescriptions?"

Balboni is on retainer as a consultant for Nassau on criminal justice issues but said he would not bid on the RFP.

Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said hiring a consultant could benefit Nassau, but that the challenge will be in the details.

"How much independence and autonomy would this outside expert have, and how open will the selection process be?" Silverman said.

He said the department would benefit from seeking accreditation from an organization such as the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which sets national standards for policing. "Accreditation requires a lot of self-examination of any organization," he said.

The consultant's contract will be for three years with the option for one additional year.

Bidders have until Jan. 15 to respond to the RFP, and a winner is expected to be selected by Jan. 29.

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