Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to replace the 6th Precinct in Manhasset with a "community policing center" and turn over many police functions to the 3rd Precinct in Williston Par includes the likelihood of basing the county's Highway Patrol department out of the 6th Precinct building on Community Drive in Manhasset.
Acting Nassau County Police Department First Deputy Commissioner Thomas C. Krumpter disclosed the highway patrol department's possible move during a meeting organized by Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by approximately 50 elected officials representing 31 villages, the town council, state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and aides to Congressional Representatives Gary Ackerman, Peter King and Carolyn McCarthy, and Nassau County Legislators Judi Bosworth and Wayne Wink.
The 6th Precinct, which is located in Manhasset and serves all of Great Neck's nine villages in some capacity, was one of four precincts tabbed for the "community policing center" status in a plan that Mangano said at a press conference last week would save the county $20 million this year as it tries to eliminate a projected deficit.
Krumpter said the projected $20 million in savings that the plan is supposed to create has already been included in the county budget under a broad category of "initiatives" that are projected to save $150 million.
He said the need to generate the savings in police department spending is one of the reasons that the plan is being fast tracked for the county Legislature, whose approval could come as soon as Feb. 27.
The county Legislature's public safety committee is scheduled to meet Monday, Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. and conduct a public hearing. The full county Legislature will meet on Monday, Feb. 27 starting at 1 p.m., during which the Legislature will be asked to vote to adopt the plan.
Krumpter said that moving the county's highway patrol from its current location in Bellmore to the 6th Precinct's building on Community Drive would result in a net reduction of police-related traffic at the Manhasset location. He said moving the highway patrol department might also remove the possibility that the land would revert back to the Whitney family, which deeded the land to the county for use only as a police headquarters.
Village of Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin, who is also president of the Great Neck Village Officials Association, asked Krumpter at the meeting if someone being arrested in Kensington would require a Kensington police officer to accompany the county police officer to the 3rd Precinct, which she said would create a coverage problem for the village.
"We know it's a strain for villages," Krumpter said. "We may give it consideration."
The mayors also questioned whether taxpayers would see a reduction in the headquarters tax paid to the Nassau County Police as a result of the consolidation. Krumpter said that the consolidation would only help avoid further increases but would not produce any reductions.
Krumpter insisted that the reorganization will allow the county to add 48 officers to the community-based POP division, which would restore past cuts to those officers.
He admitted some details have yet to be worked out and said the county's plan for a phased roll out would allow for some fine-tuning to be done before the consolidation plan is completed.
Under the county's plan the 8th Precinct would be merged into the 5th Precinct, 30 days after the county Legislature gave its approval. The 6th Precinct would be merged into the 3rd Precinct 60 days later, followed by the 4th Precinct and the 5th Precinct, and finally, 60 days after that, the 1st and 7th precincts.
Krumpter said that in an emergency, the same systems that are in place now would be used to mass resources to affected areas.
He said the current plan establishing eight precincts was established in the 1970s, before computers, before automated systems and when there were 4,500 police officers, compared to 2,300 today.
Krumpter also pointed to the inflexibility of moving personnel where they are needed when the 3rd Precinct has four times the case load of the 6th Precinct.
Another big change in policing is the shift to "intelligence driven" police work, and more intelligence analysts, who are civilian members of the force, hired out of places like the NSA, CIA, Homeland Security and Target, which, he said, has the most sophisticated analytical program of any retailer.
"They have been game changers," Krumpter said.
The plan will also equalize the case loads among detectives, he said.
Officials also expressed concern that Roosevelt Shopping Mall will be folded into the 3rd Precinct, noting that the mall generates four times the number of arrests of the entire precinct. But Krumpter said that Roosevelt Field has its own police station.
In response to the concern raised by state Assemblywoman Schimel about the logistics of such things as parking spaces for visitors, Krumpter said those concerns have been addressed with a plan to move police cars that are being stored to the 6th Precinct or other areas, freeing up spaces around the building.
As for why the plan is not being phased in at a slower rate, to allow for adjustments, Krumpter said, "We need the savings now."
Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman commented, "Public safety is the most important thing we do. When I hear that cost savings are necessary and affect public safety, it should be other way around. Public safety is cheap."