Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the Legislature’s passing of a plan to merge police precincts, saying the vote was rushed on a plan which hasn’t been adequately analyzed and is still a work in progress.
“All 19 Nassau County legislators have a duty to know the details of every item before them for a vote, especially when the item could actually put people’s lives at risk,” DeRiggi-Whitton’s statement said. “The police commissioner even admitted that at the very moment he was standing before us testifying about the precinct plan, negotiations were going on between the county executive and the police that could affect details of the plan, while we were supposed to vote on that plan at the same time.”
The Legislature approved the plan 10-9 on Monday, with each vote cast along party lines.
Mangano defended the plan as a measure that will actually increase street patrols while saving residents money.
"I commend the county legislature for approving this public safety plan that adds more police officers to our community and protects residents from a property tax hike," he said in a statement. "... This is a win-win for residents as it results in more safety and not more taxes."
DeRiggi-Whitton contested that view, saying the department’s 177 patrol cars can be decreased to as few as 100 without legislative approval.
“If patrol cars are cut, it is my thinking that they will not be cut in areas where crime is at a high rate, rather from the areas with a history of less crime, which I feel my district falls into. This is why I have a great deal of concern should they decide to make changes at a later date, and would have felt slightly better if we had some type of stipulation in writing. Although the truth is that now that the precinct numbers have been lessened, the commissioner is free to do what he wants with the patrol cars,” she said in her statement.
Under the plan, the sixth precinct in Manhasset will be turned into a community policing center, which will not have the capability of processing arrests or dispatching patrols. Its current coverage area includes Sea Cliff and Glen Head.
DeRiggi-Whitton said she expects no savings for taxpayers. She cited an independent review which she said showed a potential savings of $12 million, which doesn’t count money necessary to improve the remaining precinct facilities or the possibility of additional overtime “needed to process arrests in what are already busy headquarters.”
She criticized Mangano and his staff for not respecting government’s process.
“The executive is supposed to have to prove the worth of its plans to the legislative branch before it votes to approve those plans. That is not happening in Nassau,” she said.