Nassau PBA rejects contract that awarded officers with $3K annual stipend for body cameras

The Nassau Police Benevolent Association rejected an eight-and-a-half year contract with the county's police department last week. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association rejected a tentative contract that would provide police officers with a 25 percent raise over eight and a half years and a $3,000 annual stipend to wear body cameras, according to a Newsday report.

Union President James McDermott said the proposed contract was defeated on Dec. 23 by 143 votes, according to Newsday.  McDermott did not provide further specifics on the action taken by the nearly 1,600-member union.  Efforts to reach McDermott or another representative of the union for comment were unavailing.

The $3,000 stipend, according to Newsday, would be awarded annually, but put into the base pay of each officer at the conclusion of the contract.  The proposed deal would have also provided a $2,500 cash payment to each officer, along with another payment of $2,420 on Jan. 1, 2025, according to the report.

The stipend follows an executive order Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in mid-June that requires each police agency to conduct a plan to “reinvent and modernize police strategies” by April 1, when the state’s next fiscal year begins.

“There’s concessions; there’s always concessions in contracts and in arbitrations, but we do this in order to get guaranteed cash increases into your pocket,” McDermott said in a video circulated to members of the union earlier in December, Newsday reported.

According to figures from another Newsday article published in the summer, the average police officer in Nassau County makes more than $121,000 a year and has an average workweek of under 25 hours, without taking overtime into account. Contract provisions also provide officers with more than 70 days of paid time off.

With the proposed 25 percent increase to the reported average pay of $121,659, the average pay for the officers would increase to more than $152,000.

Nassau County spends $1,148 per capita on police and fire protection while the national median is $359, according to a U.S. News & World Report this year that deemed Nassau County the safest community in America.  Public safety professionals account for 1.26 percent of the county’s population, compared with the national median of 0.70 percent.

According to data from, 26 officers in Nassau County retired since Jan. 1, 2020, and the collective pension payments total $3.37 million under the state’s Police and Fire Retirement System. Five of the top 10 officers with the biggest pension amounts have Nassau County listed as their last employer.

Nassau County spokesperson Michael Fricchione said the proposed deal “recognized current financial difficulties and delivered meaningful raises to police officers.”

“The Majority looks forward to the next step in the process and will continue to support agreements that are in the best interest of Nassau residents and the men and women who serve law enforcement,” Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), presiding officer of the County Legislature, said in a statement.

The tentative deal would increase the out-of-pocket costs for health insurance, according to the report. The agreements between the county and the Superior Officers Association and the Detectives Association both have provisions that provide financial compensation and health benefit parity for public employees, according to Newsday.

The rejection came two weeks after more than 100 people gathered outside the Nassau County legislative building in Mineola to demand more be done for police reform aside from the  $3,000 annual stipend for body cameras.

“This police contract is not considering needed reforms to the police,” Shanequa Levin of Long Island United to Transform Policing & Community Safety said at the protest. “They need to hear us because they don’t care. We need them to know that Black lives matter to us.”

Levin said that the body camera initiative was not a satisfactory resolution to the need for effective police reforms.

“There should be real, structural changes [to the police], and I’m not just talking about damn body cameras where they’re going to get a stipend to wear them,” Levin said. “I’m talking about real change, like how ticketing can be handled differently, how we handle mental health cases differently, how we handle drug cases differently, I’m talking about reducing the footprint of the police in our streets.”

Fred Brewington, a Hempstead-based civil rights attorney, said it is time to take the message of police reform “from the streets to the suites.”

“If we don’t rise up, our ancestors will roll over,” Brewington said. “When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we’re talking about a historical statement that needs to be said. We’re talking about a reason that Black people have been subjugated for 400 years when they came over in the bottom of slave ships.”

William Biamonte, chief of staff to the County Legislature’s Democratic minority caucus, said the group supports police reform.

“It is our duty to hear the public’s voice as we seek to produce a comprehensive, community-driven plan that meets the diverse needs of Nassau County residents while ensuring officers are optimally and appropriately equipped to uphold the highest standards of professionalism as they serve and protect the public,” Biamonte said in a statement two weeks ago.

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Robert Pelaez

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