Curran changes mind, approves precinct reopenings

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Curran changes mind, approves precinct reopenings
County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder earlier this year. Curran agreed to reopen the 6th Precinct during a press conference on Monday (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Just last week, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran moved to sue the county Legislature over changes made to the budget, namely $1.6 million added to reopen the 6th and 8th precincts.

But on Monday, she stood beside Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams to announce that the county would begin opening the closed precincts next year.

“When I ran for county executive, I recognized the need to reopen the 6th and the 8th precincts,” she said at a news conference in Manhasset. “Today I announce that becomes a reality.”

The 6th Precinct in Manhasset was absorbed into the 3rd Precinct in Williston Park in 2012 under County Executive Edward Mangano as a cost-saving measure. Politicians and residents have pushed for its return over the past six years. But Nassau County, continuing to operate under the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, has not been able to find money for it.

Curran’s original $3.075 billion budget did not include money to reopen the precincts. But the Nassau Legislature voted unanimously last month to reopen the 6th Precinct and the 8th Precinct in Levittown and set aside the money to do so.

Shortly after the measure passed, Curran said she would veto the precinct openings, saying that the county did not have the money to do so and that it would be an “empty gesture,” adding that the county Police Department did not have enough detectives.

Curran’s threat to sue came over the Legislature increasing the estimated revenue reaped from the sales tax. Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said that the county had the money to reopen the precincts and that Curran’s lawsuit was “a colossal waste of taxpayer money.”

In her statements on Monday, Curran called the deal to reopen the precincts a compromise using existing funds that wouldn’t “unreasonably stretch county funds.”

She also said she was swayed by increased wait times at the county’s 911 call center over the weekend.

In addition to reopening the precincts, the agreement between Curran and the Democratic caucus includes funding for additional staffing in the Office of Minority Affairs and CASA, pilot bus programs in Port Washington and Plainview, and more security in public parks.

I am proud of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus who worked with me to finalize this budget, restore the 6th and 8th precincts, and provide funding for critical services for the residents of Nassau County,” Curran said.

She also said that she would drop her lawsuit.

Nicolello told Newsday that the Republican majority might consider an override of Curran’s veto. But the Democrats no longer support the override after their compromise with Curran and Republicans do not have the 13 votes needed for an override.

Although she acknowledged Nicolello’s support for reopening the 6th Precinct, Nicolello criticized her quick reversal on the issue in a statement.

“Her protests on our budget amendments ring hollow in light of this historic reversal on the opening of the 6th and 8th Police Precincts, after she claimed she could not pay from within her budget,” he said.

Curran said that she would address the lack of detectives in the upcoming contract negotiations with the police unions. Union representatives said police officers have been reluctant to become detectives because the pay is inadequate, according to a Newsday report.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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