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Contract for bodycam consultant approved by Nassau Legislature panel

Michael Balboni, president and managing director of Red

Michael Balboni, president and managing director of Red Land Strategies and former state senator, speaks during a press conference at H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge on Feb. 25, 2019. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Nassau County legislators on Monday voted to hire a consultant to help implement a body camera program for county police officers, selecting a company run by former Republican State Sen. Michael Balboni to provide advice on the expected department-wide rollout.

The legislature's Rules Committee voted 4-0 to approve the two-year, $121,250 contract with Redland Strategies, of Manhattan.

Three Democratic legislators abstained from the vote: Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams of Freeport, Siela Bynoe of Westbury, and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton of Glen Cove.

They expressed concern that the Redland contract did not mention that a body camera program should be implemented by late 2021.

Allison Malhame, Nassau's deputy commissioner of shared services, cited Redland's experience in, "researching the body worn camera programs." Malhame said RedLand had "conducted research" into the NYPD's body-worn camera program.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicollelo (R-New Hyde Park) said of the company: "There is a wealth of experience there and a wealth of competency, so I think this would be a good selection to make."

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Smith testified that Redland, "had the most contact in the tristate area ...The reality is they've made the best case for being in the community for having people in the community, for having knowledge, both technical experitse and promotional expertise, PR expertise ... and we figured we'd look to them to help us develop it. "

County spokesman Mike Fricchione called the contract approval, "an important step to ensuring Nassau continues to build trust between communities and dedicated members of our incredible police department."

County Inspector General Jodi Franzese said her office had examined the contracting process, and "we didn't see things that popped red flags or anything that was a cause for concern for us, or any irregularities during the procurement process."

Asked by Abrahams why the lowest-bidder wasn't selected, Malhame noted a Virginia company had bid on the contract, but wasn't selected because it, "didn't have any relationships in Nassau County, and one of the key criteria for this RFP was getting the communtiy together and reaching out to all the stakteholders."

Fricchione said the county could not identify the other companies that applied for the work.

The committee action, which does not require approval by full county Legislature, followed approval in November of a new labor agreement with the county's Superior Officers Association. The pact says officers will receive a $3,000 stipend for using bodycams, and that the program should be implemented by the end of September 2021.

The SOA contract notes, "It is the further intent of the County to implement the [body worn camera] program no later than Sept. 30, 2021."

Last Thursday, county officials confirmed a "tentative agreement" between Nassau and the Police Benevolent Association, the county's largest police union.

Fricchione said only that the body camera issue is "addressed" in the tentative pact.

Smith declined to comment on the details of the proposed PBA contract, other than to describe it as "tentative." Smith said PBA members must be, "afforded the opportunity to review and ratify that in discusison, before we can comment on it in any fashion."

During the committee debate Monday, Bynoe attempted unsuccessfully to table the Redland contract until it reflected the fact a body cam program would be in place by late next year. Democrats are in the legislative minority.

"If they slow us down or there's some inability to carry out this task as stated, we could be in jeopardy of not having a body camera [program] here in Nassau County," Bynoe said.

Fricchione declined to say whether there was a deadline to implement body cameras for PBA officers.

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