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Review protocols before duty

Seal of the Town of Hempstead.

Seal of the Town of Hempstead. Photo Credit:

When an on-duty public safety officer is the most dangerous man on the road, something is terribly wrong.

That seems to have been the case Thursday night in East Meadow when Robert Core allegedly ran down and killed pedestrian Eddie Cotto of Lindenhurst. Cotto, 50, reportedly was jaywalking across Hempstead Turnpike when he was struck and carried 150 feet by Core's vehicle.

Core, 42, began his shift just 20 minutes before the accident. According to police, a Breathalyzer test done on the public safety officer after the crash showed he had more than twice the legal blood-alcohol level allowed for drivers. Officers said he had red, glassy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol.

The Town of Hempstead first planned to suspend Core, but now says he will be fired. That's the obvious move, but it comes too late to do much good.

The question is how Core was able to gain access to a town car and start his shift if he was drunk, and how Hempstead and other municipalities can assure it doesn't happen again.

Pre-shift rituals vary widely among law-enforcement agencies. Town public safety officers have a check-in procedure that would have included Core seeing his supervisor, at least briefly, for his assignment.

In most instances that is probably enough. The death of Cotto, however, is a reminder in Hempstead and elsewhere that protocols should be updated to make certain the public safety officer is not a danger.