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Nassau PBA chief: Hire new top cop from the department

Nassau County Police PBA President James Carver speaks,

Nassau County Police PBA President James Carver speaks, in Mineola, about the new police commissioner having the right to fire police officers. (Dec. 17, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The president of Nassau's largest police union Tuesday called on County Executive Edward Mangano to promote a new commissioner from within the police department despite Mangano's intention to hire a "disciplinarian" from outside.

James Carver, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, also vowed to appeal a judge's decision keeping disciplinary power with the commissioner rather than outside arbitrators.

"There's a lot of talent in this police department," Carver said at a news conference at PBA headquarters in Mineola. "I think the county executive should consider those in the police department. There are talented people on this job. In my opinion, it takes an outsider way too long to get acclimated in this job to have any immediate impact."

Mangano forced out Police Commissioner Thomas Dale Thursday after prosecutors found that Dale personally directed officers to arrest a witness in a politically charged election-year case.

Mangano said the next day that he intends to hire a replacement from outside the department, and that he'll choose a disciplinarian, someone like Dale.

Kevin Tobin, the PBA's second vice president who oversees disciplinary issues, said when career Nassau officers are passed over for the top job, it hurts morale among police brass and ultimately the entire force.

"It hurts them," Tobin said. "It's a bad situation."

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email that the search process is "ongoing," but did not respond to Carver's call for a commissioner from within the department.

Nevin said that for the commissioner "to lead the department and have respect for the application of the rules and regulations, it is essential that he or she have the ability to discipline those who violate those very rules and regulations."

Carver said union lawyers plan in the "next few days" to appeal a judge's decisions backing a 2012 change in Nassau law that repealed administrative code that had effectively vested police discipline with arbitrators rather than the commissioner.

Carver said the county must abide by a 2008 agreement with the PBA giving police facing significant discipline the option of binding arbitration rather than a departmental hearing.

He said the ability of officers to choose binding arbitration provides checks and balances that are important to a department reeling from Dale's recent dismissal.

"The county entered into an agreement that they would support legislation that would allow binding arbitration," Carver said. "They have a contract and they should uphold their end of the contract."

Insp. Kenneth Lack, a police department spokesman, declined to comment.

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