Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is willing to consider re-opening the police department’s Sixth Precinct and has deployed county workers to begin repairing poor conditions at the Manhasset facility.
Mangano, while pointing out that the merger of the Sixth Precinct into the Third Precinct in Williston Park has saved money for taxpayers and has not increased crime, said Thursday that he was open to discussions with the police unions about re-establishing the stationhouse.
“I never say never,” said Mangano, citing the reopening of the Fifth Precinct in Elmont in 2014 after its merger with the Fourth Precinct in Hewlett. “When we worked with the PBA on the Fifth, they relaxed some of the contractual rules that maintained savings for the taxpayer and we were able to come to an agreement on that, so if they’d like to enter into those discussions as well, we always have an open mind when it comes to public safety and policing.”
The controversial 2012 planned merger of eight precincts into four, with the remaining buildings converted to lightly staffed policing centers, was supposed to save the county $20 million annually.
But some of the consolidation has been reversed or was never carried out. Today, just half of the precincts remain consolidated: the Sixth into the Third Precinct and the Eighth into the Second Precinct in Woodbury.
Police Benevolent Association president James Carver said he was also open to an agreement mirroring what was reached to reopen the Fifth Precinct.
“The PBA is willing to do exactly the same thing,” said Carver. “We’re willing to sit down with the county executive and enter into talks.”
Nassau acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who has said it would cost $5 million annually to pay 25 officers in administrative roles to reopen the Sixth as a precinct, declined to be interviewed Friday.
Nassau police spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said there are no current plans to “de-merge the 6th and 3rd Precincts.”
Meanwhile, Department of Public Works employees have converged on the Sixth, a 44-year-old station house that is now a lightly staffed policing center housing Highway Patrol officers, to perform maintenance. Newsday reported earlier this week that the facility contained asbestos, broken and missing floor and ceiling tiles and sewage leaking from a bathroom pipe.
County workers have so far cleaned the first floor of the building, including buffing the floors, and replaced some ceiling panels, said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin. Asbestos abatement inside the building is also ongoing, Nevin said.
Mangano, a Republican, said he sent workers there after the conditions were brought to his attention when Carver and others spoke Monday at the legislature. In mid-April, Legis. Ellen Birnbaum (D-Manhasset) sent a letter to Mangano that detailed the building’s conditions.
“You’re always concerned when anyone presents an issue with respect to maintenance, and we expect our staff and our employees here to address that,” said Mangano. “That’s what they’re gonna do. You know, we don’t want to see those conditions, and we’ll address it.”
Legislators Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) toured the Sixth on Friday “to determine immediate and ongoing needs of the structure,” said their spokeswoman, Cristina Brennan. They declined interview requests.
The testimony before the legislature followed a rally outside organized by Birnbaum, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Carver and other police union officials to complain about the conditions and decry an increase in crime.
While crime in the area of the Sixth Precinct is down 12 percent since 2011, according to the department, recent countywide crime spikes in residential burglaries and robberies have frightened some residents.
But Mangano spokesman Nevin said: “It’s a falsehood to give anyone the impression that Nassau County’s going to be a safer place because you have an extra ten people behind a desk doing a job that can be done anywhere throughout this county.”
Carver, who at the rally called the conditions inside the Sixth deplorable, said he was pleased that maintenance was finally being addressed.
Birnbaum, in a statement, said: “It is gratifying to see that after bringing public attention to the state of the Sixth Precinct building, long sought after improvements are being made. Hopefully, this is the first step towards reopening a fully staffed Sixth Precinct building.”