Two locals from Oceanside and Island Park were chosen to represent their communities in Nassau County’s police commissioner’s new police task force.
Mark Mirsky, a resident from Oceanside, and Matthew Paccione, a former school and current village board member in Island Park, were picked to serve on Commissioner Patrick Ryder’s new Community Council, which comprises “community members” from all 19 legislative districts. They were sworn in on April 9 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in front of a packed room.
Mirsky runs the active Facebook group Oceanside Community News, which currently has over 4,000 members. He graduated from the Nassau County Civilian Police Academy program last spring, where he met Ryder — who chose him personally. “I’m excited for it because I like being involved, and giving back to the community,” Mirsky told the Herald.
He hopes to understand how 4th Precinct cops operate, and urged residents to call on them more to encourage cooperation between the two entities that he feels are on the same side. More specifically, he wants relations between officers and children to improve.
“Having a relationship with young folks will help them feel better about the issues that plague them, such as the opioid epidemic and school safety,” Mirsky said. “Kids need a comfort zone. They must feel comfortable about reporting something that is troubling their peers. Having them get to know officers is a first step. This is what community policing is about.”
Paccione is a former president of the Island Park school board, as well as a former public safety trustee for the Island Park village board. He has experience working with Nassau County Police and is active in his parish, Sacred Heart Church. “I live, breathe and bleed Island Park; so whatever I can do to help my community be better is my goal,” Paccione told the Herald.
He is keeping an open mind about initiatives, but plans on giving specific attention to the opioid issue. “I look forward to working with Commissioner Ryder and representing the people of Island Park the best way possible and making it a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Crime in Nassau County has decreased by 30 percent since 2010, according to Ryder, who credited this to the county’s modern policing initiatives, including its task forces and community programs aimed at solving crises like gang violence and the opioid epidemic. However, an issue that affects one community may not affect another, he said, and the interests of each community must be kept in mind to ensure the best policing practices.
“When you speak to people from different communities, that’s when you start to understand each others cultures and understand what the needs are for each community,” Ryder said. “And that’s what we intend to do with this community council.”
The members of the community council have agreed to volunteer their time to address the specific issues plaguing their community. County Executive Laura Curran worked with the county’s 19 legislators to select residents who “have a finger on the pulse of their communities,” she said. They will be meeting with county police and their legislator periodically to develop plans of action and discuss what can be done to curb local crime. Eventually, an executive community council will be chosen to oversee the other 19 groups.
“This is something that’s brand new to all of us,” Legislator Denise Ford said. She played a part in choosing the community members, appointing Paccione, whom she has worked with in the past. Ford said that the details of how exactly the council will operate is unknown for now, “This is something that is brand new to all of us,” she added.
She is optimistic, however, “When you look at neighborhood policing, such as pop cops, this will help augment and help them better communication,” she said. Ford believes issues will be brought to the police more efficiently since it will be easier for residents to communicate with the force, “I think people are rather excited about it,” she said.