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Nassau police will cut motorcycle unit

Motorcycles from various departments lead the funeral persession

Motorcycles from various departments lead the funeral persession for fallen Nassau County Police Officer Michael Califano outside Maria Regina Roman Catholic Church on Jerusalem Avenue in Seaford. (February 10, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The motorcycle platoon, one of the Nassau County Police Department's oldest units, will be eliminated Wednesday as part of a $4 million savings plan meant to help shore up the county's teetering finances, a top police official said Friday.

The department will also "significantly cut back the size of the Marine Bureau" during winter, though the specifics of those cuts are still being deliberated, First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.

The cuts come under orders from County Executive Edward Mangano, who in June told all county departments to trim their labor budgets.

Almost all other county agencies are expected to achieve their savings through layoffs, but the police department will meet its obligations through bureaucratic reshuffling.

The police department's personnel costs are more than $400 million a year and Krumpter said no layoffs are planned.

The elimination of the motorcycle platoon and the reduction of Marine Bureau service in winter are the latest cuts to the force, whose head count stands at 2,266 officers.

Earlier this year, the department offered a retirement incentive to shed about 100 higher-paid officers. And by year's end, the county's eight police precincts will have been consolidated into four; half of those consolidations are already completed.

Under the latest plan, the motorcycle platoon's 10 officers and its supervisor will be reassigned to the Highway Patrol Bureau -- whose jurisdiction includes the Long Island Expressway in Nassau and the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway. They'll be in cars, and the move will fill nine vacant Highway Patrol slots, reducing overtime costs.

Axing the platoon will save about $2 million, according to Krumpter. The other $2 million in savings will come from Marine Bureau cuts and other reshuffling.

When necessary, members of the platoon can be brought in to perform their current duties, including escorting dignitaries and funeral processions, Krumpter said.

He said their motorcycles would be maintained and their training kept up to date.

Krumpter said the department is also reshuffling civilian staffing, including some ambulance overtime.

James Carver, president of the rank-and-file officers' union, the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, said Friday that the cuts would hamper the department's ability to enforce traffic laws and protect the North and South shores.

"Cutting them, I believe, obviously compromises the impact that we have in issuing summonses in the county," Carver said. "Motorcycles are able to go into areas where a regular patrol car can't."

Krumpter disagrees, saying cars can generally go wherever a motorcycle can.

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