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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Suffolk Legislatures shouldn't micromanage cops

The latest battle in the ongoing police wars in Suffolk County is a proposal to give the county legislature more control over the department. Disingenuously, the bill says the legislature "does not wish to micromanage," but that's exactly what it would do. It's a bad idea.

One of the legislature's important roles is oversight, but that should not include the power to approve or deny in advance the department's efforts to keep up with emerging needs by moving people and units around. The fast-moving nature of policing requires that its commanders have a high level of flexibility, without seeking permission first. The legislature can then criticize later and hold hearings to expose what it sees as mistakes. That's how oversight should work.

The bill, eligible for a vote today, purports to limit this pre-approval to major policy changes. Still, the legislature's areas of competence don't include making strategic or tactical policing decisions in advance. It shouldn't even try. hN

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