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Nassau police precinct closures eyed

A file photo of a Nassau police car

A file photo of a Nassau police car at a crime scene in Elmont. (June 23, 2010) Photo Credit: James A. Escher

The Nassau County Police Department plans to redraw the boundaries of all of its precincts, closing two of the eight and expanding six others to help close a projected $310-million county deficit for 2012.

The plan, contained in a draft of a presentation that acting police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter is expected to give the county legislature Wednesday, would alter the police coverage areas to distribute calls for service more evenly among the six remaining precincts, Krumpter said.

The proposal would not involve cutting the number of officers on patrol. But it would result in the layoffs of 81 commanders, detectives and others on administrative duty, for $15 million in savings. County officials so far have declined to disclose the precincts that would close.

Currently, three precincts -- the First in Baldwin, the Third in Williston Park and the Fifth in Elmont -- are much busier than the other five, police data shows.

"There is a wide disparity between these precincts and the other five," Krumpter said in an interview. "This is not an efficient use of our resources." The existing precinct map was created in 1972.

Under the new boundaries, six precincts each would manage an estimated 70,000 calls for service per year, and handle about 3,000 arrests. Some of the six remaining precinct houses would need to expand their arrest processing and detention areas, Krumpter said.

The Sixth Precinct in Manhasset, the Fourth in Hewlett and Second in Woodbury -- which have the county's fewest arrests -- would see the biggest bump in activity, according to a draft map of the proposed coverage areas.

County Executive Edward Mangano proposed merging the Second and Sixth precincts last year but dropped the plan after facing stiff opposition from county lawmakers and others.

The county is still evaluating which precincts would close but Krumpter ruled out the Third -- the county's newest facility -- and the First, which is scheduled to be replaced with a new building next spring.

The GOP-controlled legislature, which must vote on the county budget by Oct. 30, will have the final say on any precinct changes.

At a news conference Monday outside the First Precinct, Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin) and other Democrats questioned whether the GOP administration would provide lawmakers with enough details to assess the plan.

"The lack of information is unacceptable," said Scannell, ranking member of the Public Safety Committee, who represents areas covered by the First Precinct.

Jeannine Maynard, program director at the Uniondale Community Council, a civic group, worries that closing precincts would delay response times and limit community resources. "Precincts are a resource that the community needs," Maynard said.

But Krumpter said response times would be unaffected by the closures, adding that relatively few residents ever visit their local precinct. "I would bet they spend more time visiting Roosevelt Field mall than their local precinct," he said.

With police vehicles equipped with the latest technology, Krumpter said officers are using precinct houses less.

Accident reports, which account for the largest number of public visits to precincts, soon will be available online, Krumpter said.

The laid-off employees will have the option of accepting demotions to lower-paid positions. At the end of the process, officials say 81 people will come off the county payroll as others bump down in rank and responsibility.

Krumpter said the number of layoffs also could be fewer due to retirements at the end of this year.

James Carver, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, called the Mangano budget a step in the wrong direction. "They should be hiring more police officers and adding more precincts," Carver said. The PBA cannot block the precinct closures.

Suffolk County has seven police precincts. Dan Aug, spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy, said the county "plans to maintain the current precinct structure."

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