For police commissioners, fighting for resources is often a big part of the job. But it was wrong for Thomas Krumpter, acting commissioner of the Nassau County police, to testify to the county legislature Thursday that a proposal for a new $105 fee on traffic and parking tickets is essential to pay for 150 new officers and 81 new civilian employees.
Krumpter told legislators that if the fee isn’t instituted, programs such as walking a beat, emergency-response teams and major investigations would suffer. This is what we call the grandma-will-die scenario.
How the department spends its budget is Krumpter’s business. How it’s raised is for elected officials to say. There are numerous options, including higher property taxes, increasing other fees and cutting costs. To offer political cover, Krumpter is being put on the spot to argue that if this one fee is not enacted, crime-fighting will suffer.
From County Executive Edward Mangano’s point of view, legislators have refused to raise taxes, and it is they who want cover to vote for Managano’s fee. Fair enough. The GOP legislators Mangano relies on for support, led by Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, have left him hanging when he’s tried to cut expenses and increase revenue.
But to use the public’s fear of crime and respect for police to make it look as if one huge, sure-to-be hated fee is the only thing that stands between them and lawless streets is wrong. To act as if this is going to provide a stable funding source for the department is disingenuous and foolish. The fact is that tickets would exceed $200 and cause people to start driving differently, leading to fewer infractions. And to act as if all this money is going to increased policing is untrue. Mangano’s new ticket fees are projected to raise $64 million next year. But the 2017 budget for the police department is just $49 million higher than the 2016 allocation. — The editorial board