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Editorial: Consolidating the Sixth Precinct into the Third

Are You Bewildered and Disturbed?

We are too.

Those of us who are lucky to live relatively quiet lives do not have an intimate knowledge of all the functions that are carried out at police precincts.

And that is why so many of us are filled with questions and worries about what will happen if the Sixth Precinct is manned with a skeletal two-person desk. We are being told that we will have the same number of patrol cars equipped with computers servicing this area, but will we have the same individual cops dedicated to this part of the county who know the area? Know the shortcuts and where traffic gets jammed up? Know the community leaders? Know the career criminals? Know the domestic violence cases? We also have questions about the impact of fewer officers in administrative and supervisory roles especially when coordination with fire services and EMTs is needed in large-scale incidents.

By the way, the Third Precinct is located on Hillside Avenue and Mineola Blvd. Its area is shaped like a bow-tie and encompasses New Hyde Park, Albertson, Carle Place, Westbury, New Cassel, East Garden City and Salisbury. We are told that just processing shoplifting cases at Roosevelt Field is keeping them hopping.

What guarantees are in place to assure that resources in the Sixth Precinct are not depleted by a busier precinct, the Third? If arrest processing will not take place at the Sixth Precinct and officers must go to the Third for those duties, how much time will be lost for officers to drive to the Third to make those reports that are vital for successful prosecutions? How will that impact on the number of patrolling cars in neighborhoods?

We have no studies, no reports, no rational step-by-step explanation of the nuts and bolts of such a major and sweeping change. If this were about the development of a large parcel of land, we would have environmental impact studies that would give some blueprint of the potential negative impacts and recommendations for addressing those impacts. In this case, we need a human impact study because the robustness and effectiveness of our police coverage makes for safe, peaceful neighborhoods and essential help in times of crisis, both personal and communal.

Eighteen months ago, we had an inkling that big changes for the organizational structure of the policing system were looming. We also knew that the county was in a fiscal meltdown, under the gun to look for ways to save millions. It seems that with all that lead time and the urgency of the situation, by now, we would have studies on the options, the pros and cons of various choices, and cost breakdowns.

How much would it cost to remodel all the precincts that will double their service area so that they can accommodate more officers making reports, more suspects being processed and held, more parking spaces? Why is it so difficult to get information?

Our genuine questions and concerns are shoved aside with a brusque statement on the county website site that reads, “Here are the facts to dispel the misinformation and fear tactics being spread by politicians seeking political gain.” And by the way, the list of facts is very short.

There is much that we don’t know.

Here’s what we do know.

Crime statistics for 2012 in Nassau County are higher than the same period just last year. Residential burglaries are up by 85 percent. Total burglaries up 52.75 percent. All major crimes are up by 19.63 percent. In our community alone, we know that home invasions have cast shadows of fear in formerly tranquil areas.

The Office of Legislative Budget Review has already warned that the savings will not amount to $20 million this year, rather their financial analysis concludes that the potential savings this year would be $12.2 million. That report is not available online.

According to police union officials, the department has lost 300 officers in the past two years and they also say that the 48 POP (Problem-Oriented Police) officers that the county says will be added will not be in on the streets in communities; they will be the two officers at the desk in the depleted precincts. (It requires 6 cops per position to staff a 24/7 operation and 4 precincts will be affected, hence 48.)

We do know that at the public hearing last week at the county legislature, the public was not allowed to speak until the end of the day.

President John F. Kennedy once wrote, “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”           

- Carol Frank