Nassau will launch its controversial plan to downgrade four of eight police precincts by May 1, with the station house in Levittown the first to become a "community policing" center with reduced staff and responsibilities.

The centers, which will have up to 10 officers on duty at most times but will not handle arrests, are part of County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to save $20 million annually by reorganizing Nassau's precinct system. The reorganization will move 48 officers from administrative positions to the streets, and some 100 higher-paid desk officers are expected to retire under an incentive plan.

First Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the Eighth Precinct, headquartered in Levittown, will fold into the Second Precinct based in Woodbury by May 1 and become a community center.

The current Sixth Precinct in Manhasset will fold into the Third, headquartered in Williston Park, and is expected to be operating as a center by July 1. The current Fifth, in Elmont, merging with the Fourth based in Hewlett, will become a center by about Sept. 1, while the First Precinct in Baldwin will make the changeover by early November, Krumpter said. The new First Precinct will include the current Seventh, and will be headquartered in Seaford.

"As we have said repeatedly, this move will increase efficiency and cut costs," Mangano said of his reorganization.

Police unions, many residents, and all nine Democratic members of the GOP-controlled Nassau County Legislature opposed the plan, which won approval along party lines.

"We think public safety is possibly at risk and the plan will never save the county that amount of money," said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, (D-Freeport).

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At least one special bureau, such as Highway Patrol, also may be assigned to each center. Each of the current precincts has about 38 officers on duty, except during early morning hours, officials say.