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Friday, July 25, 2014
Differing views of recent crime data
Police Dept., union disagree on impact of precinct mergers on public safety
By Vikas Girdhar
Ann Friedman/Herald
The 5th Precinct closed in September 2012 to merge with the 4th Precinct in Hewlett.

The Nassau County Police Department’s September 2012 decision to merge the 4th and 5th Precincts as a way to help save an estimated $20 million is facing renewed criticism from the police officers’ union, with reports indicating an increase in some major crimes this year compared with the same period in 2012, before the merger.

Total crime so far in 2013 is down 1.84 percent from the same period last year.

The merged 4th and 5th precincts, headquartered in the 4th, in Hewlett, are now known as the Southwest precinct, and include Elmont and Franklin Square. This was one of three mergers that took place last year, and one of two that have seen increases in most major crime categories over the past three months, even as total crime has decreased. The other two mergers were the Northeast, which combined the 2nd and 8th precincts, and the Northwest merger, which combined the 3rd and 6th — the other area that saw an increase in major crimes.

The Police Benevolent Association claims that the increases are directly attributable to the mergers. But the Police Department says that drawing any conclusions from three months of data is misleading.

The latest crime statistics show upticks in robbery, burglary and grand larceny in the Southwest area from Jan. 1 to April 1, compared with the same period in 2012. The data also reveal lower numbers of sex crimes, felony assaults and stolen vehicles. A combined count of all major crimes during the period shows an increase of 10.9 percent. In the first-quarter-to-first-quarter comparison, there have been one more murder, two fewer rapes, 23 more robberies, 28 more burglaries, 20 fewer cars stolen and 19 more grand larcenies in the Southwest Precinct.

James Carver, president of the PBA, said at a press conference on April 17 that the decision to go ahead with the Southwest merger, and the mergers in general, was not well thought out, because it combined the busiest precinct in the county — the 5th — with a moderately busy precinct — the 4th. Carver added that combining the work of two precincts into one, with no additional staff, could not possibly be effective.

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