The Glen Cove Police Department has brought back its crime prevention unit, about two years after retirements led officials to shut it down.
Mayor Reginald Spinello said he supported the reinstatement for the city of about 27,000. "These people know the neighborhood . . . they know the players," he said. "They are a group that can respond quickly to neighborhoods and really make a difference immediately."
The city's 52-member police force shrank to 45 as of Jan. 1, 2013. Glen Cove officials had said budgetary issues prevented the force from returning to full strength.
Police Chief William Whitton said this week the department needed to find eligible recruits and academies in which to place them; and he was comfortable reinstating the special unit once the force had grown to 50.
The unit's two officers focus on crime prevention, working in plain clothes and identifying areas where criminal activity is increasing. They cultivate informants and conduct surveillance, Whitton said.
"If you identify people who are the really big players, who are dealing and using drugs, you can get to the root cause of who's bringing the stuff into the community," Whitton said.
Experts in law enforcement say these types of units can help curtail crime but often are a "luxury" in police departments.
Maria Haberfeld, chairwoman of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice department of law and police science in Manhattan, said she supports the use of specialized units, but departments have to have the resources to sustain them.
The unit's members -- Det. Brian Glennon and Officer Eddy Linares -- are both 36, former New York City police officers and five-year members of the Glen Cove force. Glennon's salary is $135,653; Linares, $95,655. Their pay hasn't changed since being assigned to the unit; and no additional money has been allocated to the unit, police said.
The department's budget increased from $12,166,007 last year to $12,955,611 this year.
Whitton said Glennon and Linares were selected based on criteria such as arrests made and communication skills. He also cited their experience in crime prevention in New York.
Police data show that drug arrests have increased since the unit's relaunch. There were eight drug arrests in June, July and August, combined. In September, there were 13, with four ongoing investigations.
Linares, of Glen Cove, said he has seen drugs ruin good people and families. "It breaks your heart . . . this is home, and to me it's personal."
Glennon, also of Glen Cove, said he wanted to work for the unit. "I always enjoyed being in the streets. I like the excitement of working narcotics and street crime," he said.