We disagree with the Newsday editorial board’s determination that reforms to policing protocols are strictly "a matter of regulation and law" and description of efforts to delay approvals of law enforcement contracts until a police-reform plan is approved as "misguided" ["Getting policing right in Nassau County," Dec. 9.]
In the aftermath of the police-involved killing of George Floyd, tens of thousands of Nassau County residents braved the heat and the COVID-19 pandemic to express their outrage and demand change. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to heed that call and respond to the best of our ability.
While the editorial presents a cut-and-dried portrait of the reform process, recent events illustrate that police officials likely lack the unilateral ability to implement the major structural and operational changes demanded by our constituents.
This summer, Nassau County Police Department officials explored disbanding the plainclothes Criminal Intelligence Rapid Response Team (CIRRT) and reassigning those officers to the Bureau of Special Operations (BSO). Nassau PBA officials responded, in part, by stating that any alterations to CIRRT "would be a mandatory subject of bargaining." NCPD officials tacitly agreed with this stance by drafting contractual documents to effectuate the change. No agreement was reached, and the status quo remains in place.
The six-year saga to introduce a body camera program provides further evidence as well. A pilot program initiated legislatively in 2014 was promptly mothballed by a labor grievance and is only being resolved now through collective bargaining. Indeed, the recently approved agreement with the Superior Officers Association recognizes the necessity of bargaining, and provides that "the parties commit to resolving impact discussions in advance of program implementation."
Nassau County must not continue placing obstacles in its own path by prematurely entering labor agreements. We stand by our belief that an agreement on a community-driven police reform plan must come first in order to avoid further gridlock.
Kevan M. Abrahams,
Siela A. Bynoe,
Editor’s note: The writers respectively represent the First (Freeport), Second (Westbury) and Third (Lawrence) Legislative Districts in the Nassau County Legislature.
Crystals have plenty of valuable uses
I disagree with the reader who stated that crystals are nothing more than pretty ["Crystals are pretty, but that’s all they are," Letters, Dec. 14]. Here are some uses of crystals: Diamonds have been used for glass cutting since the Middle Ages and used as axles in clocks and fine machinery as well as for drills and saws. Diodes and transistors with many applications are made of crystals that are polarized by rare earth elements. Microprocessors contain billions of crystal junctions. Light-emitting diodes are LED crystals. The pixels that illuminate flat-screen color TVs and computer screens are crystals.
We are all experts who need each other
A reader seemed to voice a belief that people with a college education somehow look down on the "working man." ["I don’t need Biden’s olive branch," Letters, Dec. 17]. I believe that this is part of the Republicans’ desire to imply that the well-educated and people who are specialists are elitists, and that the common man knows more than they do. It is true that the electrician, bricklayer, plumber and auto mechanic are indispensable. However, teachers, lawyers, doctors and engineers also have value. We have been set up by the conservative media to believe there is a class war. The truth is that we are all experts, and we must rely on each other. It is the culture war that has to be flushed down the toilet.
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired schoolteacher.
Criticism of Trump right on target
A reader finds President Donald Trump to have been one of the best presidents since Pearl Harbor, which I find hard to believe ["Really? Trump is nothing like Hitler," Letters, Nov. 30]. He gives him credit for a vaccine which will save "thousands." What about the tens of thousands of deaths that occurred because the pandemic was so badly handled by the president? He has at least 22,000 lies or misleading claims in person or in tweets. To me, he has no class, charm, coolness, credibility, compassion, wit, warmth, wisdom, sensitivity, humility, honor or grace. Which, by the way, both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama do have. The comparison to Adolf Hitler would be obvious if you go back to the early 1930s and see how Hitler moved up to become dictator (similar personalities). In my view, this president makes former President Richard Nixon look like an angel.