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Return of ‘POP’ good for Nassau County precincts

Nassau County's new police recruits are sworn in

Nassau County's new police recruits are sworn in at a ceremony at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Oct. 16, 2015, in Garden City. The swearing in of 183 new officers has facilitated the return of problem-oriented policing officers, who work closely with the community to tackle crime and quality-of-life issues. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A lot of effective policing can happen before a crime is ever committed, but for that to work, communities need to know their cops, and cops need to know their communities.

“Problem-oriented policing” is a proven method that allows officers to work closely with residents, particularly young people, in a community to address crime and quality-of-life issues. Nassau County’s announcement that the program is back in effect is extremely welcome news, no matter what the motivation.

POP cops had been part of Nassau policing until acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter moved 45 plainclothes officers, some of them POP cops, to regular patrols to save millions of dollars in overtime in 2014. Now Krumpter has more flexibility because a new class of 183 officers has been sworn in, giving him more resources to increase crime-fighting without racking up more overtime.

Krumpter says 16 POP cops have been back in the county’s eight precincts since late November, which is surely gladdening to residents who were so upset when they were removed. It also could be gladdening to some county legislators who, thus far, had said they would not confirm Krumpter as permanent commissioner.

Directing police resources to where they’re needed is unusually hard in Nassau because the police contract saddles management with a concept called minimum manning. The practice requires that every zone in the county be covered by officers at all times, no matter how crime-free they might be. That ties Krumpter’s hands. So getting these officers back in communities where they can establish relationships and stop big problems before they start is a win in a game that’s rigged to make such victories very expensive and difficult to achieve.