57° Good Afternoon
57° Good Afternoon

Letter: How villages can cut their police costs

A photo of a police officer writing a

A photo of a police officer writing a ticket. Credit: iStock

Newsday’s article “Cost of policing” [News, Feb. 7] notes that six Nassau villages will undertake a study to find out if they contribute a fair amount to their shared services agreement. The better study would be about why they, and other Long Island villages, pay such astronomical sums for their police departments.

Our Center for Cost Effective Government just concluded an analysis of police costs in Rockville Centre and found that its mandatory arbitration system has led to salaries spiraling out of control. Our center has called for the state to abolish this mandate.

If villages are unable to persuade the state to abolish arbitration, or at least cap increases at 2 percent as New Jersey did, then the villages should work to replace full-time officers with part-timers.

Of the 64 officers in the Rockville Centre Police Department, 22 earn more than $175,000 annually. Ten earn more than $200,000. It would not be difficult to find many retired, healthy officers who would put in a 17.5- to 20-hour week for $30,000 a year — earnings that are capped under the state pension system.

The savings would be significant, especially because neither health benefits nor pension contributions would be needed. We estimate the savings from $2.4 million to $4 million annually for Rockville Centre alone.

Steve Levy, Bayport

Editor’s note: The writer, a former Suffolk County executive, is executive director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a policy organization.