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Letter to Editor: Denenberg Opposes Mangano Precinct Plan

Legislator explains opposition to county executive's proposal to turn four precincts into community policing centers.

Based on information to date or, rather, a lack thereof, I oppose County Executive Edward Mangano's police precinct closure plan, which he labels an “enhanced” approach to policing.  Last year, Mr. Mangano proposed closing two police precincts.  Now, he wants double that number, cutting half our county’s precincts. 

To close four precincts – two of which are among the three busiest in the county – is irresponsible, fiscally and logically.  It is also troubling that the County Executive is using public funds and/or phone lists for robo-calls to tout his plan and provide misinformation regarding alleged savings.

It is difficult to back a plan that eliminates our precincts, and replaces them with community centers, staffed by only two police officers, especially when we are experiencing an increase in crime.  At one of the precincts set to close, the First, major crime is up almost 14 percent. During the past year alone, burglaries are up an astounding 24 percent. 

We have seen a rise in prescription drug abuse, senior home invasions, armed robberies and other serious crimes throughout the county.  Our County Executive continues to reduce our police force (now below 2,300 when it was 2,700 in 2009) and jeopardize public safety, despite this documented increase in violent crime and his elimination of our special patrols such as problem-oriented police, heroin taskforce, anti-gang unit, DWI, plainclothes and traffic enforcement.

Mr. Mangano says his plan will save money.  But, he has consistently gotten his numbers wrong.  Massive layoffs were to save $75 million, but only saved $21 million.  Yet, spending on outside contracts to politically connected firms and administrative costs are up over $20 million. 

Additionally, Mr. Mangano’s administration has failed to collect more than $44 million in unpaid traffic fines.  The county has not saved what he says it will save, and his administration does not collect revenue that he budgeted from his unprecedented fee increases. 

Taxes will not decrease with these police cuts.  The only thing to decrease is the service received for the taxes being paid – 108 officers and four precincts less.  So why should we believe him this time?  I am not willing to compromise our quality of life and public safety on his word.

On Monday at a hearing, the actual plan was first presented to me without research, details or facts to back up “projected” savings of $20 million. The “plan” does not include a fiscal analysis or a single word about associated costs or how much will be spent in incentive pay.

At this public safety hearing, my questions went unanswered and the hearing was recessed. The plan neglects to mention how existing precincts will house twice the activities or the cost to renovate these community policing centers, which will replace the First, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Precinct buildings, or what these centers will be.  No information was provided about $15 million being spent on a new First Precinct (community center?) or what will happen to ambulances or other functions operated from the closed precincts.

There are too many unanswered questions for this plan to receive my support.  Nassau residents pay some of the highest taxes in the country. In return, at the very least, our quality of life and public safety must be protected and not jeopardized.

Input from community leaders and residents is always welcome.  I am hosting a meeting with Leg. Scannell and on Feb. 16 with the North and Central Merrick Civic Association.  There will be a hearing on Monday, Feb. 13 at 11 am, at the County Legislature and I encourage anyone who feels strongly regarding this issue to come and speak.

If you cannot attend, please send me a statement to give to County Executive Mangano and Majority Leader Schmitt about the precinct closings. You can call my office at 571-6219 or email me at ddenenberg@nassaucountyny.gov.

-

Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick

Wayne Smith February 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Dear Mr. Denenberg: What then, would be your alternative idea for reducing the high cost of police services in Nassau County?
maria February 08, 2012 at 04:14 PM
first off tell mangano to get the 44 million in incollected funds!!!!! why ruin the police dept. already hurting....crimes on the rise!!!!
Merrick7 February 08, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Mr. Denenberg alleges a reduction in police force, but Mr. Mangano is not eliminating any police officers considering the no lay-off clause negotiated by former county executive Suozzi that did not end until December of this year. There have been unprecedented retirement incentives to the retiring officers, which Denenberg backed. Also he mentions a reduction in POP officers, but part of the plan is to increase POP officers, so this is an incorrect or rather overlooked statement he makes. No patrols are being decreased and it actuallly puts more cops to work and anyone who read the Newsday article regarding difference in pay in hte precinct offices favoring retired police officers who were doing CSEA jobs, knows many of the layoffs of these 95 staffers are actually ones who are basically retired and this is a cushion job as a reward that can be brought online, such as accident reports, which are long overdue. If Mr. Denenberg has a plan for cost savings for the bloated county budget please give it to us. Because contracts and patronage increase of 20 million dollars, though in my opinion excessive hardly solves a 300 million dollar deficit and requires a cost savings somewhere. Mr. Denenberg is a wonderful legislator who cares deeply for his community, but his pro-union stance is clearly from union lobbying and contributions and bleeds through this opinion piece unfortunately. Please remember taxpayers before union, Mr. Denenberg. Sincerely, a 23 year resident of Merrick.
Merrick7 February 08, 2012 at 04:34 PM
@Maria, Mangano's 44 million dollars in uncollected funds is unlikely to be recovered anytime soon, considering some of the money dates back over a decade, and residents do leave, especially ones who do not pay tickets. This change in precincts does not change any of the 117 patrols or decrease a single officer on the street. Also with accident reports being posted online this year, the number one reason to visit a precinct, it is highly unlikely you will see anything more than a huge decrease in visitation to local precincts. None of these locations are being shutdown however to allow the communities to have a police operated center still in their communities. Change of shift for patrols happens at location of patrol not the precinct. Also Mangano's plan forces forty-something of the officers being removed from the precincts to be relocated as problem-oriented police officers, from their desk jobs to solving local community and high crime areas. The department is hurting from a systematic slow down of policing, organized and being investigated on the state level by the Nassau PBA. Atlantic Beach Mayor for example, complains of officers not patrolling the neighborhood and ticketing speeders, but sitting around at the 4th precinct. Also an administrative officer visiting a West Hempstead Association meeting complained about the amount of officers taking excessive sick days hurting patrols. One wonders if crime is up because an attack on compensation is occurring.
Merrick7 February 08, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Another officer in the 7th precinct is under investigation for speeding and killing a Bellmore woman who was walking at night. The report filed by fellow officers claimed he was not speeding, but a later re-enactment of the crime scene proved it to be impossible the officer was not driving well over the speed limit. No charges have been brought up for the officer and he is still patrolling the neighborhoods, with no penalties in pay.
Diane Stephan February 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
As for the 44 million in unpaid traffic violations, you can't make people pay their tickets. I'm guessing that until the State finally decides to step in and either denies registration renewal of the vehicle or suspends the persons license, Nassau won't see a dime. That could take a while.
maria February 08, 2012 at 04:50 PM
much of that CAN be collected...all you wanna do is bad mouth the polie but that is not why mangano wants to revamp...because they do what you claim they do...sounds like you have some personal issues...stick to the arguement...another think i find interesting is the people like yourself for manganos plan claim they want facts to back up why it would be a bad choice...so mr. denenberg states some great facts opposing it and you shoot it all down stating the cops "sit around" .....strange argument....if you are for nassau county don't be so biased...listen to both sides!! btw the meeting had to adjourn early because manganos side looked sooooo bad there was a man there with such an amazing argument...made mangano look like a fool....so they packed it up....
Wayne Smith February 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I would simply point out that collecting more money - which certainly the County should do in the case of unpaid tickets - is not actually a strategy for reducing expenses, which the County also needs to do. In addition. to the extent that fines are paid to the County, that revenue is not reserved for the police department.
Merrick7 February 08, 2012 at 04:59 PM
@Maria. Please explain how the uncollected fines, which are not the subject here, can be collected. I am not "bad mouth" police, but displaying facts as to address the reason for claim and Mr. Denenberg's claim of increase in crime. This is based on journal articles and factual occurrences reported for public record. I am sticking to the argument as I address the zero decrease in patrols and an increase in POP. The claim of officers in the 4th precinct sitting around all day is a quote from the Atlantic Beach Village Mayor. Your issue with the statement is from him and not me. It was based on his own personal study of the 4th precinct after seeing a decline and little to no tickets for speeding in his village. It's not my claim, but factual occurrences. I only represent myself as you only represent yours, please do not classify me or assert a claim I dislike Nassau or our police. Mr. Denenberg's claim's are valid in some cases and not in others, which I addressed in my comment above. You unfortunately mixed up my argument and misunderstood it. I apologize for your confusion to my opinion. I believe you are being very biased, but not seeing the side of the issue here. Also I attended the meeting and that was not the reason Mangano's aides left. They left because of unfounded claims of bias, strictly coming from party lines, but a party that was just revealed to receive over 300 million dollars in union contributions.
Chris Wendt February 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM
The salient question, posed by Wayne Smith, deserves a response from Legislator Denenberg: "What then, would be your alternative idea for reducing the high cost of police services in Nassau County?" Dave?
Joe February 08, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Dave??
ROBERT February 09, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I agree with you 100% Mr Denenberg . I can only hope your fellow Legislators feel the same way about closing the Pct's . When talking about Police issues you will always have your anti police statements example writer Merrick7.
Merrick7 February 09, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I actual know many friends whos family are in nassau pd, NYPD, federal officers. Respecting a police officer has nothing to do with the issue I have with the way the union behaves in Nassau County or how individual officers have been acting. how can we have an honest discussion about safety and fiscal situations when everyone claims it to be taboo to discuss issues with the police force
ROBERT February 09, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Merrick7 you have NO respect for Police Officers. All you do in your posts is bash them and state false claims. You have no clue on how a Pct is run or there functions in the communities they serve and protect. Instead you believe what you read I'm sure for that rag called Newsday. Who really cares if you know many friends who's family are in Nassau PD , NYPD and Federal ,you still have no respect for the Police. I wonder what they would think of your unintelligent posts.
Merrick7 February 09, 2012 at 12:28 PM
@Robert I apologize for not having the full knowledge of a purpose of a precinct and how it is to be run or the function to serve and protect. I thought as a citizen and one who has the ability to read and research, I would be able to discover its purpose. As you have clearly pointed out reading and research are not enough to understand fully anything about the purpose of a precinct. Its interesting though, please explain its full fucntionality and purpose instead of attacking me so we can have a discussion. I believe what newspapers have reported generally speaking and the quotes they take down and put in their articles in Newsday, yes. But I am also aware of their bias. So no I would not say I believe whatever I read in Long Island Business News, NYtimes, Newsday, Patch, herald, merrick life, or any other newspaper. They are all wrong and there is no truth in any of them as you so aptly reply. I care personally because they are my friends lol. And its interesting you sum me up and call me unintelligent and tell me what I do and do not respect its quite a rude and personal attack for political blog post. Please learn to have a civil discussion with a proper tone so it does not seem so as you put it "unintelligent." If you respond in a disrespectful way again I will report it however. Thank you.
James Hayes February 09, 2012 at 04:10 PM
We need to have a balanced view and fairly evauluate reorginizing the police force. If we loose police protection in a reorganization maybe we are better off paying "more" for police protection! There are times you get what you pay for. We in Nassau County battling illegal drugs and illegal prescription drug issues here. The shooting at the Medford Pharamacy Is the tip of the ice berg. Is it really time to pay less for police protection? We might have to pay more in the long run by being a penny wise and a pound foolish. We may be able to reorginize but this should be thought out well.
maria February 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
hey i was just thinking about the cops you accuse of speeding....watch out now when they have to fly across 5 towns to go to the pct. to bring in their arressts...and how about the pct. parking situation??? that should be great...no place to park the cop cars..etc....hundreds filing in from all around to do paperwork from miles around....great...
maria February 09, 2012 at 05:22 PM
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DdyGi5g_hgJI%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&h=mAQGdXaQ0AQG-B9PZcehZDR-nKzsId7cgb-MuIN-j4e6snQ
maria February 09, 2012 at 05:22 PM
check out this guy in the above link!! awesome!!!
ROBERT February 09, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Report what ? Lol . We don't agree on the closing 4 Police Pct's that's easy to see . The post is about closing Pct's . If anyone has been disrespectful it's been you . When you can't add anything on closing Pct's you attack the police on other subjects off the topic.
Elem February 10, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Seems to me like Merrick7 believes everything he reads...There is much, much more than meets the eye regarding Atlantic Beach and their Mayor...There's always another side... The fact is that Mangano did cut the Problem Oriented Police Unit, Plain Clothes Units, School Safety Officers, Gang Unit, Heroin Unit and many other "extras". The only thing that is true is that the number of cars out on patrol won't change. So, if you call 911, you will get a response however, don't look for extra traffic enforcement for those speeders, more than occasional extra patrol for DWI's, extra undercover attention for pot smoking/dealing punks or gang bangers, or anything else that typical police on patrol can't provide. Funny how everyone thinks office personnel is not necessary either. Gotta love places that get rid of the personnel but not the responsibilities.and expect the same response/service. Precincts, nor do any other businesses for that matter, run themselves. The people who don't find the precincts necessary are the people who fortunately never had to utilize them. More with less only goes so far. The only reason those 4 precincts are becoming "community centers" is so they can say they aren't really "closing" half the precincts...Smoke and mirrors...
SSteacher February 10, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Outstanding.
Merrick7 February 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM
@Elem thank you for the most intelligent reply thus far. This is actually valid arguments and explanations of the issue at hand, rather than sarcastic and aggressive remarks from other bloggers. I also witnessed a news conference in which Mr. Carver, explained something which has not come to light in the news, processing will be a lot harder to do without larger precinct offices, and overcrowding will occur of criminals. Could you go into more detail about the remaining responsibilities?
Wayne Smith February 10, 2012 at 02:23 PM
It has now been four days since this thread was initiated with the question I posed to Mr. Denenberg concerning his ideas for reducing the cost of police services in Nassau County. There has been no response to that question. Meantime, a number of other issues related to the police department have been discussed; some of them bear, more broadly, on the attitude people have towards police in Nassau County and their performance. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but whether you think the police in Nassau County are bona fide heros or bona fide bums doesn't matter to me. What does matter to me is that the last time I looked at my county property tax bill over 60% of what I was paying went to two items: "county police" and "county police headquarters." Let me repeat that for those who may have been reaching for the oxygen: over SIXTY percent. Here's another thing that matters to me: even while the rest of the country is starting to experience some modest level of economic recovery, Long Island continues to shed jobs, companies continue to leave the area, our economic base continues to shrink, and our childrens' future on Long Island continues to be compromised. And if you don't think high taxes have something to do with this, let me suggest a course in basic economics. That is why I asked Mr. Denenberg for his thoughts on reducing police costs; the fact that he hasn't chosen to respond is of course dissappointing. County taxpayers deserve an answer.
Elem February 11, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Merrick7, check my post on the "Precinct Restructuring" thread. You might find it interesting? Also, recheck your tax bill, particularly percentage that goes to school taxes...You also might want to go to youtube and check out some of the concerns citizens presented and how the County provided no details whatsoever. Sort of like asking for a health care bill to be signed with no review...
steve yarbourough February 15, 2012 at 09:06 AM
This ought to be great when the cars that are supposed to be patrolling Massapequa and Massapequa park are pulled to Uniondale because all the other cars are out of service on arrests, meal and transports. Parking at the 7th precinct will become a real hoot too. It sucks right now. Imagine another whole precinct worth of cars and people coming in for reports. Good thinking bonehead! why don’t you sink another 60 million into the executive office building or the one west legislature building currently under way. And somebody wonders why we have budget issues. Attention all criminals! Attention all criminals! There will be no police patrolling the way they used to after this merger goes through. Enjoy the criminality you will be able to commit without fear of getting caught. Good folks of Nassau County, it’s time to abandon this rat filled sinking ship piloted by Captain Two-Face. Also the basement where they intend to put more prisoner holding/ processing cells floods. Sometimes with backed up sewage.
Lorraine DeVita February 16, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Are there viable compromises that could be made, on the part of the county and the police union to circumvent this less then stellar restructuring? Of course , however EACH side is adamant that they will not cave into pressure so we the taxpayers are once again stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we complain that the pension costs etc of the unions et all are strangling the economy we are bashed for "union" or "police" hating, if we complain our local polititians are short sighted and more concerned about patronage etc. we are bashed for being "of the other party" do i support the police, yes , however I do not support their very lucrative pay, pension and over time plans. Do I feel they are over paid, under utilized, mis managed & some take advantage of the system because they feel they are OWED Yes..But thats not the typical individual Officers fault that is both the county;s and the unions fault. The individual officers are just taking what is given to then, which quite frankly we ALL would if given the opportunity. So I would feel it is safe to assume we all appreciate the PERSON doing the job, but we are all PISSED as HELL at the people running the insane asylum called Nassau county and the Unions leaders. Human nature, people arent to give up ANYTHING without a fight - it has to hit home and between the eyes before they realize that perhaps a compromise is better for all in the long run.
Wayne Smith February 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM
See the editorial in today's Newsday, which highlights an important point about the crimes statistics that have been cited to justify opposition to Mangano's reorganization plan. As it turns out, the so-called spke we're seeing in burglaries has much more to do with the fact that 2011 was an anomaly. Indeed, the burglary statistics so far this year bear a striking resemlbance to the stats from 2010 and 2009. Burglaries were actually abnormally low in 2011 - and that's not hard to figure out why. As we can all painfully recall, last winter featured numerous sizable blizzards,which meant that there were a lot more people at home, a rather inconvenient development for a burglar. Also, one has to assume that for anyone who might be tempted to commit a crime requiring a fast get-away, having lots of snow on the ground presents something of a complication. Kudos to Newsday for highlighting this information. It's a shame that it's taken this long to bring this to the public's attention; it's even more of a shame that, at least to my knowledge, not one public officlal has noted this issue.
Joe February 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM
We are still waiting for David Denenberg's plan on how to save money within the police department, what do you say Dave, maybe a down hall if you fear doing it in writing?

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