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Laura Curran urges increased Nassau police hires to combat drugs, gangs

Democratic Nassau Legis. Laura Curran is calling on Republican County Executive Edward Mangano to hire more police cadets to help combat the county's heroin and opioid epidemic and clamp down on gang violence. Curran, who is running for county executive, spoke outside the First Precinct in Baldwin on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Democratic Nassau Legis. Laura Curran called on County Executive Edward Mangano Tuesday to increase the hiring of police cadets to help combat the county’s heroin and opioid epidemic and to clamp down on gang violence.

At a news conference at the First Precinct in Baldwin, Curran criticized the GOP administration’s “sporadic” police hiring, which she contends has caused the department to “cannibalize” special units.

“We need to be hiring and training officers on a consistent and constant basis to keep up with police retirements and to meet safety needs,” said Curran (D-Baldwin), who is running for county executive. “The Mangano administration has not done that and that needs to change.”

In 2014, 45 Nassau plainclothes officers, including “problem-oriented policing” cops and gang prevention officers, were shifted back to patrol to save $4.4 million in overtime. That policy was reversed in late 2015.

Earlier this year, 44 officers from the police academy and specialty units were shifted back to patrol to cut overtime, officials said. The move came after the county pushed back the hiring of 150 new recruits from October 2016 to May because of budget constraints.

“Crime is down 28 percent and 879 officers have been hired over the past 7 1⁄2 years of the Mangano administration,” said Deputy County Executive Ed Ward. “Smaller cadet training classes during the year were found to be ineffective and too costly to the Nassau taxpayers many years ago.”

There have been 145 police retirements thus far in 2017 and the department estimates there could 80 to 100 more by year’s end, Curran said. There were 67 retirements in 2016 and 198 retirements in 2015, according to department statistics.

“The administration of the Police Department carefully monitors staffing levels and examines factors that indicate retirements may increase and hiring may become necessary,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a Nassau police spokesman. “In doing so, we have been able to make recommendations for hiring that have achieved a consistent and responsible head count.”

Curran is challenging County Comptroller George Maragos in the Sept. 12 Democratic Nassau County executive primary.

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