In addition to the two recent legislative committee meetings (the public’s first opportunity to voice their concerns, since the latest details weren’t even announced until the Feb. 13 hearing), smaller community information sessions have also been packed. Residents, who already pay among the highest property taxes in the nation, are fearful about what the decrease in police and precinct facilities mean for their families’ safety. They’re angry the process is moving so fast. They’re frustrated they weren’t given more time to weigh in on such an important decision. Police union heads, who counter the administration’s alleged benefits at each hearing and through local media, warn there’s no question that crime will increase and the public’s well-being will indeed suffer.
Mangano’s precinct plan is not an easy sell. It also comes at a precarious time. According to the police department’s own statistics, violent crimes have been on a steady rise throughout Nassau County. And, according to county financial records obtained and analyzed by the Press, Mangano’s cost-saving and job-cutting move comes while police brass have been adding new salaried positions and substantial raises to their ranks to the tune of more than $350,000.
“It’s been a long wait,” Valley Stream resident Milagros Vicente told legislators after waiting hours to address the legislature Feb. 13. “I’m not part of the union, I don’t work for any politician, I am not involved in any civic organization. I am a mother, a voter, a resident—and a pissed-off resident.”
To loud applause, Vicente said she brought more than 750 signatures in opposition to the plan for submission and more than 300 letters addressed to Mangano from residents against it.
“Most people aren’t even aware that this is going on,” blasted Karen Martin of Franklin Square, who identified herself as a Republican and a conservative as she addressed lawmakers. “I don’t know why the information isn’t given to the residents of Nassau County, since it’s such a serious situation.
“You’re a total, total disgrace!” she boomed, again, to applause.
Yet while tempers flared and insults flourished within the legislative chamber, a relaxed, confident Mangano met with the Press in his office one floor above the fray, patiently explaining the details of his precinct proposal.
“This is the best plan to go forward with the existing superstructure that we have,” he said, stressing that while researching the initiative, his administration’s first priority was public safety.