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Nassau announces tentative pact with PBA, the county's largest police union

Nassau PBA president James McDermott has not commented

Nassau PBA president James McDermott has not commented on the tentative agreement. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County officials have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with the county's largest police union in a deal that "addresses the use" of body cameras," county officials said.

County spokesman Mike Fricchione would not discuss terms of the tentative agreement with the Police Benevolent Association.

Fricchione said the pact "addresses the use of body cameras by our police officers."

If a body camera provision is implemented, the agreement would mark the department’s first use of the technology.

The Nassau County Legislature last month approved an 8½-year contract for the Superior Officers Association, awarding pay raises totaling 15% and giving officers a $3,000 stipend upon implementation of the county's body camera program, which is expected to begin by next September.

"We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement on the terms of a new labor contract between the County and the Police Benevolent Association," Fricchione said in a statement.

"We will not discuss the terms of the tentative agreement until the Union’s membership has been afforded an opportunity to review and ratify the contract," he said.

After that, Fricchione said, the pact will go to the Nassau County Legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county's financial control board, for approval.

NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky said, "we will wait to see if this agreement is approved by the Legislature and then we will carefully consider it."

Nassau PBA President James McDermott did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.

A county police department spokesman did not immediately provide comment.

The PBA, which represents the department’s patrol officers, has been working without a contract since the last contract expired in 2017

Outstanding labor contracts have been a source of friction in county government since Curran, a Democrat, took office in 2018. Contracts with the county’s five major public employee unions expired at the end of 2017.

Approval of a labor agreement with the PBA would make it the third union contract the administration has agreed to.

Curran, who is seeking reelection in 2021, did not have the endorsements of the powerful employee unions when she ran in 2017.

Police unions have waged attacks on Curran during her first term, using trucks with billboards with messages criticizing her stances on issues including property assessment.

Still unresolved are the contracts for the Civil Service Employees Association, the county's largest union, and the Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

The Curran administration approved its first deal with the Detectives Association Inc. last December. The county Legislature and NIFA subsequently approved the 8 1/2-year labor deal with the 300-member union.

On Nov. 23, the county Legislature approved a new labor deal with the 350-member Superior Officers Association.

Disclosure of a PBA deal came two days after a panel of civil rights leaders and activists criticized Nassau's police reform efforts.

They expressed concern that county officials were not using the PBA negotiations as leverage to secure meaningful reform.

Nassau Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), one of three county legislators to oppose the SOA deal, expressed concern Thursday about the tentative agreement with the PBA.

"Pursuing ratification of this long-term labor agreement with our largest law enforcement bargaining unit will only serve to further undermine public confidence in ongoing efforts to achieve meaningful and comprehensive police reforms," Bynoe said in a statement.

"Because many of the central issues related to police reform are managerial in nature and require contractual agreements to enact, ratifying this contract threatens to erect additional, unnecessary hurdles that will undercut reform efforts," Bynoe said.

The SOA agreement still requires NIFA approval.

Barsky has withheld approval of Curran's $3.3 billion budget for 2021 as the Republican-controlled legislature negotiates over a plan to have NIFA refinance county debt.

Republicans oppose Curran's plan for NIFA to conduct the refinancing.

But the refinancing is crucial to Curran achieving a balanced budget.

The SOA contract notes the agreement "is expressly conditioned on the County Legislature's approval of a revised budget and financial plan submitted by the County Executive that provides resources adequate to support the financial obligations created by the agreement."

Suffolk County has not widely deployed body cameras across its police department, although about 10 officers assigned to patrol the Long Island Expressway use body cameras.

Police in the Village of Freeport have had body cameras since 2014.

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