Nassau County police brass and officials want to slash the number of the department’s eight precincts in half, leaving the four other stationhouses as “community policing centers” in a plan designed to cut 100 administrative jobs and save $20 million annually.
County Executive Ed Mangano and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Dale announced the plan Monday during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola. The proposal requires legislative approval and will be subject to public hearings, Mangano said.
“Nassau County’s eight precincts will be realigned into four precincts but a police presence will be maintained at all eight,” the Republican county executive said. There would still be 177 patrol cars on the streets, but they would process prisoners at the remaining four fully functional stationhouses, he said.
The stationhouses that would become community policing centers include the First Precinct in Baldwin, the Fifth Precinct in Elmont, the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth Precinct in Levittown. The remaining fully active stationhouses would be the Second Precinct in Woodbury, the Third Precinct in Willison Park, the Fourth Precinct in Hewlett and the Seventh Precinct in Seaford, which would be renamed the First Precinct.
County officials and police had initially proposed closing two precincts last year. Plans to rebuild the current First Precinct stationhouse in Baldwin would continue regardless of the redrawn precincts, Mangano said.
He also said the realignment would allow the department to reassign 48 police officers back into the Problem Oriented Policing units in each precinct and other unspecified special patrols. Most of those officers, who handle proactive issues in the community and meet with local civic association leaders, had been redeployed to patrol last year.
“We know the buildings don’t protect people, cops on the street do,” Dale said, noting that the Internet and technological advancements have streamlined police work since the 1970s, when the current police precinct maps were drawn. The commissioner said three precincts handled nearly double the work of the other five.
Dale said most public interaction with police officers occurs in the streets, at home or in businesses. The majority of public visits to police precincts are for accident reports, which will soon be made available on the police website, he said. He also noted that police officers change shifts at relief points—designated secure meeting places within each precinct sector—and not in police stationhouses.
“They’re dead wrong on this,” said James Carver, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the department’s patrol officers. Among other issues, Carver noted that some crime victims prefer to go to their local precinct stationhouse instead of have police officers come to their house.
He called the plan “high on expectations and low on details.”