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Nassau Legislature to vote on contract to revamp police ethics policies

Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter speaks at the

Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter speaks at the Nassau County Public Safety Center in Westbury Thursday, June 27, 2013. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Nassau County Legislature will vote Monday on a $675,000 contract with an outside police research organization to revamp the ethics policies of the county police department, which has faced repeated scandals involving officer misconduct.

The Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit composed of county and state law enforcement agencies, was one of 13 companies that bid on a contract in January to review the police department's ethics standards, rules and training.

The firm would work with Nassau for the next 18 months to "increase the department's integrity, prevent officer misconduct, increase community trust and advance the department's professionalism," according to the contract.

Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the misconduct allegations involved a small fraction of department personnel. "But we can do better and we will do better by raising the organizational discipline," he said.

The contract requires a majority vote in the legislature's Rules Committee, which is controlled by Republicans.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said last week the agreement was under review, "and we will await Monday's testimony and public input before deciding how we will vote."

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said his caucus will support the contract if his members are allowed to provide input during the ethics review process.

James Carver, president of Nassau's Police Benevolent Association, said the review should be performed in-house by department administrators and commissioners. "Who knows the department better than the people already in it?" he asked.

Krumpter said his staff will "welcome" the additional training.

Recent high-profile controversies involving Nassau police include Police Commissioner Thomas Dale's resignation in December after revelations that he ordered the arrest of a witness in a politically charged case.

A deputy commissioner was convicted last year of misusing his position to help prevent the arrest of a friend's son. Earlier this month, a county police officer was convicted of spending numerous shifts with his mistress while on duty. Another officer was fired for shooting an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington Station in 2011, following a night of drinking.

The contract calls for the company, which has performed more than 250 management studies of law enforcement agencies across the country, to review Nassau police training techniques, conduct ride-alongs with officers to "observe department culture" and implement an "early warning system" to detect patterns of potentially problematic behavior.

The firm also will develop an eight-hour ethics training session for department officials and conduct meetings with police personnel, community and religious leaders, elected officials and union heads.

A survey of police staff will be performed to gauge concerns about "officer ethics, integrity and accountability," the contract states. At least 200 Nassau County residents also will be surveyed about their opinion of the police.

Research Forum officials declined to comment for this story.

Also Monday, lawmakers are expected to approve the county's new school zone speed camera program, and award a contract to operate the system to American Traffic Solutions of Arizona, which maintains Nassau's red light cameras.

The speed cameras would be installed in front of 56 schools, and would bring fines of $50 for exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 10 mph during school hours.

With a $30 administrative fee, Nassau will collect $80 per ticket. The administration of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano estimates the speed cameras will generate between $25 million and $30 million a year in net revenue. The revenue helps pay for new labor agreements that restored raises to much of the county workforce, administration officials said.

American Traffic will receive 38 percent of all fines and penalties collected by the county, not counting the administrative fees.

In exchange for getting the speed camera work, the firm will reduce its percentage of revenue from red light cameras in Nassau from 38 percent to 35 percent beginning in 2016.

County officials say that having the same firm operate both programs is more efficient, and saves more money than having different firms handle each.

With Paul LaRocco

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