The Nassau County Police Department unveiled a new First Precinct in Baldwin Thursday — a $13 million project that replaced a crumbling Depression-era building.
The new building, which is 20,000 square-feet, houses many of the amenities that the older building didn’t — a dedicated lineup room and private interview areas, including one in the entry where citizens can file incident reports. The three-story building also has a break area and exercise gym for officers.
Construction of the new precinct was a long time coming. At a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday attended by Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, dozens of other elected officials, and community members, Mangano said the county saved $21 million in 2010 when he cancelled a controversial $34 million project made by his predecessor to demolish the old precinct and construct a new one leased to the county.
“For less than half the cost, we have a beautiful, state-of-the-art precinct that will help our police officers serve our residents and keep them safe,” said Mangano, who called the old building “dilapidated” and “a threat to both the officers’ safety and anybody else that had to come into this building.”
Under pressure from community members, Mangano reversed course in 2014 from a previous plan to save $20 million by merging the department’s eight precincts into four. The Baldwin precinct was to be merged with the Seventh Precinct in Seaford.
Much of the consolidation plan was ultimately dropped, but the Eighth was merged with the Second in Woodbury and the Sixth was consolidated into the Third in Williston Park.
The new precinct building, which police moved into last fall, is one of a series of precinct construction projects currently underway or planned. New buildings for the Fourth Precinct in Hewlett and the Second Precinct policing center, formerly the Eighth Precinct, are currently under construction.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association official James McDermott, while lauding the county for constructing a modern precinct, said others, such as the Fifth in Elmont, are in dire need of updates.
“They’re old buildings,” said McDermott, the PBA sergeant-at-arms and a candidate for president of the union. “We had a sewage leak in the basement at one point. You’d have to go and see it. It’s an OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] nightmare. We’ve had complaints. It needs a new building. It’s falling apart.”
Mangano said he’d like to construct new precincts departmentwide, but doesn’t have construction schedules for any others. “The ones that are in sad shape first,” he said.
Among the officials at Thursdays ceremony were two that want Mangano’s job: Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) and County Comptroller George Maragos, running as a Democrat. Mangano, who pleaded not guilty in October to a federal indictment on corruption charges, has not said whether he is running for re-election, but sources have told Newsday it’s unlikely he’ll be nominated by the Nassau Republican party to seek a third term.
Nevertheless, Mangano heard kind words about the gleaming new precinct from Jackie Bell, of the Baldwin Oaks Civic Association, who walked up to the county executive shortly after the ribbon-cutting and said: “I want to thank you guys for listening to us, you heard us, and we got exactly what we wanted.”