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Nassau police chief retains power to discipline cops

Nassau police union president James Carver in Mineola

Nassau police union president James Carver in Mineola on Dec 11, 2013. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

New York’s top court Tuesday effectively killed a lawsuit by the Nassau County police union that sought to take away the police commissioner’s authority to discipline cops.

The Court of Appeals, without comment, declined to hear an appeal by the Nassau Police Benevolent Association. That ends the case and means a midlevel court ruling -- which gave disciplinary power to the police commissioner instead of an independent arbiter -- stands, said Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer.

“I guess it’s a decision we kind of expected,” Nassau PBA president James Carver said Tuesday. “I’ll speak to our attorney, and see what avenues we have. I still think giving the commissioner full authority without the option of any independent process is unfair.”

At issue was the power given to the commissioner’s office by the Nassau County Legislature in 2012, following a series of police scandals. Before then, police had the option of going to binding arbitration when faced with disciplinary measures that could result in 10 or more days of lost wages.

Police unions around the state have been fighting this issue since 2006 when the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a police commissioner’s power over disciplinary matters. The midlevel Appellate Division earlier this year ruled against the Nassau PBA.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015 vetoed a bill that would have taken disciplinary matters out of the hands of local police commissioners and put them before an independent arbitrator – only for police in Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City.

Nassau police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With Paul Larocco

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