The Democratic Caucus at the Nassau County Legislature held a press conference Oct. 24 at the County Police Headquarters in Mineola to call upon the County Executive to restore some of the drastic service cuts he has initiated as part of his 2012 budget, charging that public safety is at risk.
The administration has made some serious reductions in police protection this year. The elimination of the Heroin Task Force is particularly bothersome to the eight-member Democratic Caucus. The task force helped combat the growing menace of heroin addiction across Nassau County. Its members were responsible for 432 arrests in 2010.
“It’s simple. Less cops and less detectives mean the streets are less safe,” said Minority Leader Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove). The POP program, the Motor Carrier Unit, the anti-gang unit, and the Marine bureau are a few examples of police services which have been or are about to be reduced.
Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) added, “We all want to see waste removed from our County budget but in its proposed 2012 budget, the Administration has cut the heart out of essential police services we residents depend upon. Under this budget, the County Executive plans to eliminate 20 anti-crime officers leaving some precincts with no officers assigned to anti-crime patrol. In recent years, heroin has been a major problem in our schools. Children get addicted. Children die. The Heroin Task Force that Mr. Mangano is shutting down made over 400 arrests last year. Who will be protecting our children now? If Mr. Mangano wants to balance his budget, let him start by freezing his outside contracts to politically connected firms not by leaving our children at the mercy of drug dealers.”
Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) said, “This budget means we are jeopardizing public safety and reducing our quality of life. Eliminating two precincts and essential special patrols such as heroin, DWI, anti-gang, traffic enforcement and undercover units means less police presence on the streets, less enforcement and more risk to our residents. It’s a good budget for the bad guys and a bad budget for Nassau County residents.”
Other police services which have serious problems that need attention are the aging fleet of patrol cars and ambulances, the 911 call center where calls are not always answered promptly and the K-9 unit. The Caucus would like to see the administration work to improve these services not threaten them.
“The Mangano Administration continues to play politics with public safety,” Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said. “His administration wastes millions of our tax dollars on frivolous law suits, hiring their friends despite a hiring freeze and granting lucrative contracts to politically connected firms. Now, the County Executive wants to close two unnamed precincts making residents feel less safe in the neighborhoods. His priorities need to be re-examined. “
Legislator Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) said, “Our County residents face numerous fears and problems. The last thing they should have to be concerned for is their own personal safety and that of their family. Threats to close precincts and reduce other police protections without providing details can only increase those concerns.”
“We are five days from a vote on the 2012 budget,” Legislator Joe Scannell (D-Baldwin), said. “It is totally unreasonable to believe that anyone would vote for a budget without providing us with details. Closing precincts cannot make any resident feel safe.”
Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck) concluded, “We need to have serious discussions about what services people need and expect from county government. However, we need to make sure our public safety is not compromised. By closing two police precincts, eliminating the POP (problem oriented police) officers and dissolving the heroin task force, we are embarking on a plan that does just that. Actions cannot be taken that will impact on our sense of safety in our homes, in our shopping centers and in our communities.”