The Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association has launched a television and radio ad campaign meant to improve officers' image, even though their existing contract extends through 2018 and there aren't county elections this year.
The ads, which began running in mid-May, tout police member's volunteerism and work in the community, teaching self-defense classes and anti-bullying classes, and saying Suffolk has the lowest crime rate of any New York suburb.
"Public employees are not the public enemies as the media tends to make us appear," Suffolk PBA president Noel DiGerolamo said in an interview.
He wouldn't disclose the amount spent on the buy, but said, "we're prepared to spend whatever it takes educating the public about who we are and what we do to show the significant impact we have on people’s lives."
The ads are paid for out of a union public education campaign, which is funded through union dues -- 1.1 percent of PBA member's salaries, he said.
The ads also demonstrate the union's deep pockets.
The PBA spent $1.3 million between 2011 and 2013 through its Long Island Law Enforcement Foundation, Newsday has reported.
DiGerolamo wouldn't offer a dollar figure for the TV and radio ad buys -- or how much cash the union has available -- but said the union wants to get its message out.
"The problem we're faced with today, the PBA and police officers have been vilified for years, by the previous administration and other elected officials," he said. "We need to educate the public about the reality, that we are partners with the community, not opponents. And that message costs a significant amount of money because we don't own a newspaper or a cable news channel."
Here's the television ad: