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Letter: Suffolk County police promotions are based on merit

Suffolk County Police Department patrol cars outside the

Suffolk County Police Department patrol cars outside the department's 3rd Precinct in Bay Shore on May 3, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

It is disappointing that Newsday published “First, make sure police promotion is above board” [June 20], an editorial based on a fundamentally flawed and conflicted report done for the Suffolk County Legislature. The editorial discussed the promotion of a police sergeant to a job to supervise detectives in the district attorney’s office.

Inaccuracies, which the editorial attributed to the report, were corrected in my testimony before a public hearing of the legislature on June 12.

While the author of the report did not have access to police department records, he nonetheless put forward a series of conclusions. He presented his opinion about the credentials of the applicants without reviewing all of the applications, resumes, recommendations, internal affairs or personnel records that are part of the transfer and promotion process.

Over the last few years, the leadership of this department has ushered in a new era of professionalism and accountability. A key example of positive change is the overhaul of the department’s promotion process which began in 2016. Promotions are no longer automatically given based on seniority but instead are evaluated on merit. I select the best qualified individuals for the given assignment. This change has not been popular with all, but it is the right thing to do for the department and public safety.

As the former head of the FBI’s Long Island office, I have extensive knowledge of the history of this department referenced in the editorial. We continue to develop, identify and implement strategies and best practices to ensure we are a different police department today.

Geraldine Hart,

  Yaphank

Editor’s note: The writer is Suffolk County police commissioner.

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