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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.

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Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick

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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