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EDITORIAL: Precincts and politics in Nassau

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's bombshell about combining the Second and Sixth police precincts - spanning the North Shore from Great Neck to Woodbury - took everyone by surprise. Mangano needs to get a better bead on his target before he fires.

That said, Nassau is facing a dramatic budget crunch, and Mangano's direction makes sense. Some 125 police department employees accepted county incentives to retire early. This is a rare opportunity to shrink the force by leaving jobs open, saving $22 million a year. Only in a recession this long and deep could a county corral this sacred cow.

But is this merger the best way to absorb the reduction? Mangano should remain open to other ideas. Whatever changes are ultimately made, it's important that Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey monitor crime statistics and response times to ensure that service stays up to standard.

Mangano's bumbled introduction of such a critical conversation about Nassau's future has allowed the issue to degenerate into a political brawl - and this isn't the first time. On property assessments and legislative approval for hiring outside legal counsel, his administration got caught in booby traps of its own making. Real leadership involves clearly explaining the need for change and then building consensus - even with Democrats. That's especially true when the public's safety could be at stake. hN