Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
Nassau County’s Police Benevolent Association is blasting the county executive’s plan to reorganize four of the county’s eight police precincts into Community Policing Centers.
The plan, unveiled on Monday, calls for eliminating 100 desk jobs and reassigning another 48 officers from their desk jobs to patrol and other positions.
The precincts slated for reorganization are in Elmont, Levittown, Manhasset and Baldwin.
County Executive Ed Mangano estimates that the plan will save $20 million annually, in part by reducing overtime costs and redistributing workload.
But Nassau PBA President James Carver said the plan will stretch an already-reduced police force too thin.
“We all understand that there’s tough economic times going on,” Carver said. “But, you know, when you continue to downsize the police force and continue to downsize police services, you are not doing the right thing by the public.”
Carver’s said he’s concerned that while residents of those neighborhoods will still be able to report a crime at the new Community Policing Centers, they’ll likely have to go to one of the county’s other four precincts to then see a detective.
That, he said, could mean the loss of a local “safe haven” for residents.
“It’s almost like disenfranchising these people,” he said, adding that the additional travel and inconvenience might also discourage some from reporting crimes.
The county is already struggling with a reduced police force, he added, with about 350 fewer officers than there were just two years ago, in 2009.
But Mangano said that the changes will save money, boost efficiency and increase public safety, by modernizing a precinct plan first drafted in the 1970s.
He added that service won’t change for residents in precincts that are being converted.
“There is absolutely zero reduction of police in their area,” he said. “There are 177 patrol cars that have specific geographic areas that are not changed at all.”
He added that at least two officers will be on hand at each Community Policing Center, which will be staffed 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
County lawmakers would still need to approve the plan.
It comes as the county tries to reign in its finances, which are already managed by a state oversight board. The Nassau Interim Finance Board took control in 2011, after the county failed to balance a more than $2 billion budget. The board later declared a fiscal emergency in the county. Nassau’s fiscal woes come despite its residents paying among the highest property taxes in the nation.