Ron Walsh, the veteran high-ranking Nassau County police official who finally received a waiver from the state to become Long Beach’s new police commissioner, was sworn into the post Friday.
Walsh’s appointment to the top Long Beach police department post was delayed for weeks while he waited for a waiver from the state Civil Civil Service Commission that will now allow him to work for the city and continue to collect his Nassau County pension.
His salary with Long Beach will be about $185,500. Had he not received the state waiver, he would have been permitted to earn no more than $35,000 a year from Long Beach.
The state first granted Walsh a waiver that allowed him to work for Long Beach only until Feb. 28. But his application for a two-year waiver was approved two weeks ago. Walsh’s health and pension befits will be covered by Nassau County, where he served 28 years with the police department. His last post was Chief of Support.
In an interview before he was sworn in, Walsh, 55, said in the next few weeks, he will be releasing Long Beach’s police reform plan, which has been mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of every police department in the state, by April 1.
Walsh said about 14 community and religious leaders worked on the reform plan, which will eventually be reviewed and voted on by the city council.
The basic outlines of the plan, Walsh said, will include “more transparency and improving the department’s website.” He said the site will show summons police wrote, arrests officers made, the outcome of the cases and what service activities officers performed, such as medical or other aid to the public.
Walsh said residents of the largely Black North Park community have been reaching out to improve relations with the Long Beach police department. He said he has held meetings with the residents and that more are planned.
Additionally, Walsh said, he is working on a plan to combine the communications of the police and fire departments, and eventually to cross-train them for greater efficiency in responding to calls.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran last week released Nassau’s 395-page plan that includes details for improving collection of racial and ethnic data from motorist traffic stops and implementing a body camera program for county police.
Walsh said all police commissioners would like more officers under their command,. Long Beach currently has 65 officers, but he added that any such move would have to be discussed with the city manager Donna Gayden and city council members. Gayden had said the city is “estatic” to have Walsh serve as commissioner.
Walsh replaces Phil Ragona, a 34-year member of the department who has since retired.
Walsh and Ragona had appeared before the public in late October, with each making the case that he was the best man for the job. Ragona stressed his more than three decades of experience in Long Beach. Walsh said he had helped run a larger department but was also familiar with the city.
He said he is planning to improve Long Beach’s cycbersecurity systems, which were hacked late last year, causing disruptions in phone and computer systems.
Walsh was selected to be Long Beach’s top cop in December, after a narrowing down process that included about a dozen applicants. He had been working as a consultant for Long Beach until his two-year waiver was approved.
“Ron really has an incredibly broad and successful professional profile, which makes him eminently qualified for this job,” said City Council President John Bendo in a statement
“We are committed to the kind of progressive contemporary policing and public safety that Chief Walsh advocates for and practices. Policing today is about listening, transparency, respect for the power and pride of diversity within our community, and having law enforcement partners who are committed to serving our community through inclusion practices that build consensus.”
“The Council has high expectations of Chief Walsh and the department and we are delighted that he is ready to begin to serve our community,” Bendo said.
Walsh said in the interview that he initially wanted to be a lawyer, but became a special agent for the U.S. Department of Justice working for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, now called or ICE. He served two years there ansd three years asa New York City police officer, in Far Rockaway, before joining the Nassau department in 1992.
In Nassau, Walsh served as a police officer, sergeant, lieutenant, detective lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector, Inspector, deputy chief, assistant chief and lastly, Chief of Support
Walsh, of Locust Valley, worked years ago as a “summer special” in Long Beach, helping to police the boardwalk. He said he is planning to buy a home in Freeport.
Walsh graduated from the Senior Management Institute for Police and the FBI National Academy, is “an accomplished lecturer, trainer and educator.”
Walsh said he had fallen in love with being a police officer.
“I can’t think of any bad day” since he started working, Walsh said. “There isn’t a bad day when you love what you are doing.”