The vexing issue of how many police officers are enough in Suffolk County - a struggle with all the finesse of an Ultimate Fighter match - has now gone over the edge.
Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), the majority leader of the legislature, who can be one of its more thoughtful members, has proposed firing Police Commissioner Richard Dormer. This is a foolish move. The real disagreement is between legislators and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.
Legislators react to fears of crime by demanding more cops. As yesterday's gang arrests in Huntington Station show, crime complaints by Cooper's constituents there are reality-based. Those concerns are a big reason for his proposal. He shouldn't hang it on a pointless debate about what Dormer may have said to him in private about the need for more cops.
Levy sees policing mostly through the lens of cost and has refused to spend all the money budgeted by the legislature to hire 200 more officers. Dormer is simply stuck in the crossfire.
Even if Cooper could get the votes to remove Dormer, that wouldn't help his constituents. With a new commissioner, Levy would be no more likely to be generous in hiring new cops or to let the commissioner disobey him publicly.
If lawmakers want change, they should amend the charter to give them more clout when the county executive refuses to spend what they budgeted. Meanwhile, this eye-gouging, hair-pulling fight in the name of peaceful streets has to stop. hN