Nassau County officials lauded four of its highest-performing police officers Tuesday for making hundreds of arrests amid a significant drop in crime.
The four officers from the department's Criminal Intelligence Rapid Response Team contributed to a 9.5 percent drop in major crimes -- which includes murders, burglaries and felony assaults -- in 2014 from the previous year, officials said.
"Their consistent efforts here have helped protect our citizens," said County Executive Edward Mangano, who presented them with citations alongside acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.
Eleven of the county's 18 homicides last year occurred in the Village of Hempstead, where the murder rate -- when adjusted for the village's 55,000 population -- is among the highest in the region, records show. In 2013, there were 26 killings countywide. Nassau's homicide squad investigates all homicides in the county.
The number of sex crimes, including rapes, increased to 76 in 2014 from 71 in 2013. In the same period, robberies decreased to 543 from 703; burglaries decreased to 1,457 from 1,738, and stolen vehicles decreased to 578 from 599, according to department statistics, which do not include crimes in areas of the county with their own police forces, including Long Beach, Freeport and Hempstead.
The officers -- Ryan Hines, 31; Jesus Bonilla, 38; Matthew Landman, 37; and Jason Vinberg, 35 -- made a combined 350 arrests in two years. "We aggressively look for arrests," Landman said.
Lt. James Watson, who oversees CIRRT, said in 2014 the team made more than 1,000 arrests.
"These particular officers have an extremely high level of activity . . . a very productive group," Watson said.
Police Benevolent Association President James Carver wasn't invited to the event at county government headquarters in Mineola. "I would have loved to have been there," said Carver, adding: "This is just another example of the fine work that Nassau County police officers do on a daily basis."
Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, said in an email: "It was a departmental function and in the future he'll be specifically invited."