In a move designed to cut $4.4 million in overtime costs, Nassau County officials announced that 45 of the county police department’s plainclothes officers would be reassigned to patrol duty until 2015. The transfers — which include Problem-Oriented Police officers, including some in the Gang Abatement Program — have drawn the ire of local elected officials and residents, who contend that the plan compromises public safety.
Democratic legislators have been vocal in expressing their views about what they believe will be negative consequences of the plan. Specifically, they are calling on County Executive Ed Mangano to restore funding for “POP cops” so that the anti-gang violence unit will not be depleted. As designed, the plan would cut 12 officers dedicated to fighting gang violence.
Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, told the Herald that the plan, announced by Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, would not compromise public safety. The county will hire 450 new officers over the next three years, he said, and the number of reassigned plainclothes officers comprises less than 2 percent of the force.
“Critics fail to understand that 150 officers in the Bureau of Special Operations, Criminal Intelligence Rapid Response Team, and the Special Investigative Services unit with the Gang Taskforce continue to operate within all precincts — performing plainclothes investigations,” Nevin said. He added that crime is down 12 percent since 2011, and is now at the lowest level since police officials began compiling crime statistics in Nassau County.
Local elected officials disagree. On May 27, Legislator David Denenberg (D-Merrick) held a press conference outside the 7th Precinct in Seaford, and said that reassigning 45 plainclothes officers would cost communities their first line of defense in undercover operations.