If police backup is needed in Manorhaven, it has to come from Flower Hill, Roslyn or Plandome Manor. That is because policing in the village is handled by Nassau County while the surrounding villages are covered by the Port Washington police.
After years of discussing a change, Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena said he is ready to make the switch to the Port Washington police.
“When I was running for mayor, one of my platforms was to get the Port Washington Police Department to patrol in Manorhaven,” Avena said. “The benefit to this community is tremendous… most of [the officers] live in the community and some in Manorhaven.”
Avena is joined in his push by Manorhaven Trustee Ken Kraft, who formerly worked for the Nassau County police. Kraft wrote a letter this week to the Port Washington police outlining the benefits of the village switching police services.
Currently, Manorhaven must have two officers on patrol instead of one, which increases costs. This allows for immediate backup since it takes time for more police to arrive from the nearest place in Manhasset.
“It’s sort of like an outpost,” Kraft said of the village. “It’s removed from the rest of the precinct.”
Kraft wrote that budget cuts to the county police have reduced the number of officers and have led to longer response times.
He also added that the Port Washington police had long worked with students in local schools and that many of the officers lived in the area. He wrote that the Port Washington Police Department would be more familiar with the area than officers from Nassau County.
According to Avena, the village currently pays the county about $1.9 million annually for policing services. That would increase slightly, he estimates, to about $2.1 million if Manorhaven switched to the Port Washington police.
Avena thinks the increase is worth it and believes residents will, too. Although the village has butted heads with citizens groups in the past, Avena and Kraft believe the community will support the change.
“When I was involved with the [Manorhaven Action Committee], a group that has tried to make improvements… we did all agree when I was with the group that this would be something positive for the village,” Kraft said.
Now the village must get the Port Washington police on board. One of the three commissioners, Jim Duncan, is focused on winning re-election in December. Each of the commissioners is up for election every three years, and Manorhaven’s role in those elections could be an issue.
“Because [Manorhaven residents] really come out to vote for elections, they felt that if Manorhaven were to be involved we could influence the election,” Avena said. “That was the fly in the ointment that destroyed further negotiations.”
Avena added that one of the commissioners, Dave Franklin, was more receptive to the idea. Avena said the village would be willing to sign a 10-year contract and waive voting rights (it would instead have a representative) but did not expect any real progress until the new year, after the elections and after the department had finished relocating one of its precincts from Port Washington Boulevard.
“We will do anything within reason to get this done,” he said. “We think it’s very important for the future of Manorhaven. It makes a lot of sense to me and the economics seem real.”