Dubbed by some as "the most important vote in the history of the Nassau County Legislature," Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) voted in favor of the precinct realignment plan. To her, it was mainly a matter of saving money.
“I realized that we have to close the budget gap,” Ford told Patch on Tuesday morning. “There’s no two ways about it. By doing something like this, we can generate savings of about $20 million a year, which will help.”
The plan, which calls for eight police precincts to merge into four, was approved Monday afternoon by a 10-9 final vote, with each legislator voting along party lines.
In voting for the bill, Ford said that the realignment plan should not impact the Long Beach Police Department, nor police patrols in Atlantic Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Lido Beach and Point Lookout, the areas on the barrier island covered by county’s 4th Precinct in Hewlett, which will remain intact.
“It shouldn’t effect the Long Beach police at all because they are a separate department,” Ford said, noting that the city does utilize county detectives and other crime scene units. “The patrols will stay the same. So that whatever cars will patrol in Lido, Point Lookout and Atlantic Beach will still be there. And we will also have an increase in what are called POP cops who will patrol at well.”
Ford said she agreed with newly appointed Commisioner Thomas Dale when he presented the plan, but prior to the vote Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams grilled him on it, saying that the legislature shouldn't be voting on something that is constantly "in flux."
The nine Democratic members of the legislature focused their argument against the realignment on the concept that it simply wasn't ready. Abrahams attempted to table the vote on the precinct plan until more details were made available, but the motion was voted down by the legislature and, eventually, the realignment was approved.
"I commend the county legislature for approving this public safety plan that adds more police officers to our community and protects residents from a property tax hike," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement. "... This is a win-win for residents as it results in more safety and not more taxes."
The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, like Abrahams, cited numerous problems with Mangano's plan to merge precincts.
Last week, it was announced that the county had postponed its vote on the merger after "progressive" discussions with law enforcement unions over the weekend.
PBA President Jim Carver said Monday that the PBA and county had made "a lot of strides" in the last week while negotiating. He continued by saying that the legislature should take at least another week to think the decision through and give both sides more time to negotiate. "In my opinion, this was not ready to be voted on," Carver said. "... They were not listening to anybody's argument, they just wanted to vote 'yes' to close the precincts -- that's it."
After the vote, Carver told Patch that he will continue to work with Mangano and his administration on fixing some of the perceived errors in the county executive's plan.
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