“These officers bust the drug dealers, do the anti-gang work and find the other crimes,” Denenberg said. “Now the sector cars are being asked to do more.” He also stressed that losing the heroin task force, anti-gang unit and plainclothes unit compromises the Police Department’s ability to be proactive. “These neighborhoods need our first line of defense, and that’s our plainclothes unit, anti-gang unit and the heroin task force,” Denenberg said.
Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) echoed Denenberg’s sentiments, adding that plainclothes officers are the “eyes and ears to solve and prevent crimes.”
“We need undercover officers,” Curran said. “These units form trust and respect between the community and the police.”
Pamela Dempsey, the president of the Wantagh Civic Association and a former prosecutor in the Bronx, said it is pivotal that “we have absolute police protection for the people we know and love.” “Any cut to any service we get is harmful,” Dempsey said. “No cut is a good cut. There are plenty other areas where things could be changed.”
Other community leaders shared their concerns about the decision to reassign the officers. “We want to have the plainclothes officers back on the streets and in our communities, where they have helped us tremendously to keep our neighborhoods safe and residents informed,” Baldwin Oaks Civic Association President Jacqueline Bell said in a statement. “We value their presence, and with them around, we know our tax dollars are being used effectively.”
Claudia Borecky, president of the North and Central Merrick civic associations, said she was outraged that officials even thought of reassigning plainclothes officers to sector cars. “Based on information they get from community members, they go undercover and make arrests,” Borecky said.
The following day, the Legislature’s minority leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), at a press conference with Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont), said that there is no point in changing a system that is working, especially when it concerns safety.