Nassau officials have agreed to restore the former Fifth Precinct station house in Elmont to a full-fledged precinct, essentially ending a sweeping police reorganization program begun two years ago that was supposed to save the county millions of dollars.
County Executive Edward Mangano and Nassau legislative leaders, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) announced the plan to re-establish the Fifth Precinct with a commanding officer, deputy commanding officer and patrol supervisor. The agreement was part of a budget-related deal to borrow $305 million over the next four years to pay down a multiyear backlog of property-tax refunds.
"This is the result of more than two years of lobbying and advocating for our community," said Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont). "I'm very happy the county executive listened to our concerns. We deserve a precinct."
Mangano and the Republican legislative majority authorized the police commissioner in early 2012 to consolidate Nassau's then-eight precincts into four by downgrading half of them into lower-staffed "community policing centers" that no longer would process arrests or handle administrative paperwork.
Despite complaints from a bipartisan mix of elected officials, Nassau merged the Fifth Precinct, with the second-highest number of crimes of all eight precincts, into the Fourth in Hewlett, which ranked seventh in crime reports.
To manage the extra work, the county had to add temporary trailers to the Hewlett station house and make other expansion plans.
The county also merged Levittown's Eighth Precinct into Woodbury's Second Precinct, and Manhasset's Sixth Precinct into Williston Park's Third Precinct. The Third Precinct, which includes the entire Roosevelt Field mall, had the highest number of crime reports.
But the county decided against merging Baldwin's First Precinct with Seaford's Seventh Precinct.
By restoring a full precinct in Elmont, the county will have six precincts, compared with the four planned.
"I think it's an excellent start," said Police Benevolent Association president James Carver. "From day one, we were opposed to the merger of any precincts. We're encouraged to see that they realized that merging of precincts, especially the Fourth and the Fifth, was not working out . . . and we're definitely glad that they are unmerging them. It's a good thing for public safety and the communities that each of them serve."
Mangano had predicted the consolidation would save $20 million a year by reducing the police force and moving desk cops to the streets. But the legislature's budget review office reported last year that early retirement of police officers cost the county $35 million in termination pay while consolidation savings had been eaten up by overtime costs.
"With crime at historical lows, the administration is working with the police to maintain the savings while preserving the bipartisan agreement to ensure the fiscal wellness of the county," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said.