The Nassau County Police Department faces a deadline Saturday to provide its 911 operators and supervisors with 21 hours of classroom training or face a potential lawsuit, leaders of the Civil Service Employees Association said.
But Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said Nassau has met the terms of a memorandum of understanding, signed by the union in August, which Walker said requires the county to provide operators with only 11 hours of training this year.
CSEA, Nassau's largest public sector labor union, filed a lawsuit against the county in July, alleging that the department had failed to train 911 operators on advanced emergency dispatching procedures, even though Nassau had received state grants earmarked for the purpose.
On Aug. 29, the union signed the agreement with Walker and First Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, prompting CSEA to drop its suit. But terms of that agreement are now in dispute.
The memorandum says state regulations "require 21 hours of in-service training for 911 call takers and dispatchers."
But, the agreement later stipulates that employees must attend one 11-hour training day to comply with the requirement. Employees received that training in September and October, county officials said.
The agreement also says training must be completed by Nov. 30 and that two full days of training will be provided beginning next year.
"We've met all of the criteria of the contract," said Walker, who argues there was not enough time remaining in the year to offer two full days of training.
But CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta said "the Police Department is not in compliance with the agreement." Laricchiuta said he plans to confer with union attorneys next week before considering a breach of contract lawsuit against the county.
Union officials also claim the training operators received this year was inadequate and covered topics including social networking, rather than more pressing issues such as protocols for dealing with hostage situations.
"The training was not at all what we discussed," said Gary Volpe, the CSEA unit president for the 911 operators.
Walker said he is "comfortable" with the quality of the training sessions. Walker added that training sessions on topics such as hostage protocol will come next year.
The labor dispute comes as the Nassau district attorney's office continues to investigate the shooting death of Hofstra student Andrea Rebello during a May home invasion in Uniondale.
Rebello, 21, was being held hostage in her off-campus apartment by Dalton Smith, an armed intruder who was demanding money. Police Officer Nikolas Budimlic arrived at the scene and would later report that Smith pointed a gun at him. Budimlic fired eight shots, killing both Smith and Rebello.
A police source familiar with the investigation into the case said the shooting of both individuals had been ruled justified.
Questions have been raised about the communication between the 911 operator and police officers sent to the scene.