The Nassau County Legislature unanimously confirmed Patrick Ryder as the county’s new police Commissioner Monday after Ryder disputed allegations, leveled in an email, accusing him of sexually harassing a civilian female employee.
County Executive Laura Curran swore Ryder in as head of the 2,500-member department during a ceremony in the legislature’s Mineola chambers.
The GOP-controlled legislature largely ignored allegations, raised Friday night in an emailed letter to Curran and all 19 members of the legislature that Ryder had made a sexually inappropriate remark to an unnamed administrative assistant during a Jan. 6 meeting with union officials and at least six others.
“The administrative assistant is attractive and she was wearing a skirt,” the letter said. “Acting Police Commissioner Ryder referred to her out loud as ‘legs.’”
Ryder denied the allegations, choking up as he discussed his reputation as a father and husband. “I did not and would not degrade a woman. Ever,” Ryder said. “None of these accusations are true.”
In an interview, Ryder said the claims were “baseless.”
County Attorney Jared Kasschau said outside counsel investigated the claims over the weekend, interviewing Ryder and three witnesses to the alleged remark and found “they were unfounded and meritless.”
Ryder also addressed questions by lawmakers about Real Time Intelligence Limited, a private business he created in 2010 when he was commanding officer of the Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence department. Ryder said he was hired to teach officials from foreign governments, including Egypt, Israel and Pakistan, about American law enforcement techniques.
Ryder said he earned $6,000 from the business and that all work was conducted on his own time without using county resources. He said he plans to dissolve the business next week.
Kasschau said Ryder was granted a waiver to operate the firm and there was no “prohibited conflict of interest.”
County lawmakers praised Ryder for his crime-fighting initiatives, community engagement and management of the county budget.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called Ryder a “cop’s cop,” while Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said he had “tremendous administrative skills.”
Ryder is the first permanent head of the department since December 2013, when former County Executive Edward Mangano forced Dale from the post. Ryder, a 32-year veteran of the county police force, had been operating in an acting capacity since former Commissioner Thomas Krumpter’s retirement last summer.
Also Monday, lawmakers approved lease changes with the operator of NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum that waive a $1 million penalty that would be imposed if the New York Islanders do not play six games per year at the Coliseum through 2027.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last month that the Islanders had agreed to play 60 games — 54 regular season and six preseason — over the next three seasons at the Coliseum during construction of their new arena at Belmont Park.
But Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the Islanders play their home games, said the deal is contingent on Nassau revising the arena lease.
The 2013 lease says if the Islanders “are unable or unwilling” to play four regular season and two preseason games at the Coliseum each year, Brooklyn Sports must pay Nassau $1 million a year for five years. Mangano began imposing the $1 million penalty last year when the team conceded it would not play at the Coliseum during the 2017-18 season.
Legislators from both parties complained that it was unwise to waive, rather than defer enforcement of the clause. But they voted unanimously for the change, saying they were concerned their rejection could sabotage the team’s return to the Coliseum.
Another lease amendment waived a requirement that Brooklyn Sports bring an American Hockey League team to play at the Coliseum.