The Nassau County Police Department has been led by an acting commissioner since Thomas Dale stepped down in 2013. That four-year vacancy finally ended Monday when Patrick Ryder was approved as commissioner.
“For the past two months, I’ve felt like a caged lion,” said Ryder, who has served as acting commissioner since July and was nominated for the permanent position by County Executive Laura Curran in January.
Ryder was approved unanimously by the county Legislature but first had to discuss a letter sent over the weekend to each of the county legislators accusing him of sexually harassing women in the Police Department.
“I did not and I would not ever degrade a woman, ever,” he said, his voice quivering with emotion. “I am here to tell you that none of these accusations are true and it was investigated this past weekend and I believe you all have found the findings that it is not true.”
According to Newsday, the letter alleged that Ryder had made inappropriate remarks during a meeting with union officials in early January, such as referring to one woman as “legs.”
Ryder’s assertion that the allegations were unfounded was backed by members of the Legislature.
“I was contacted by the county executive over the weekend, and she did mention that they undertook an investigation by an outside entity… and that the allegations were completely unfounded,” said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park).
Ryder was also questioned about his private business, Real Time Intelligence Limited, which taught officials from foreign countries the techniques of American law enforcement. He said he founded the business in 2010 and that none of his work there was done on county time or using county resources. Ryder also said he plans to dissolve the business next week.
Aside from those questions, the Legislature mostly offered praise of Ryder. Nicolello called him a “cop’s cop” and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said he was a key component of a “clean start for Nassau County.”
After his approval from the Legislature, Ryder was sworn in by Curran. After reciting the oath, he was applauded by the audience, which included many of the county’s top police officials.
Aside from approving Ryder, the Legislature also approved the waiving of a $1 million penalty, clearing the way for the Islanders to return to the Nassau Coliseum. The penalty would have been imposed if the team did not play at least six games per year in Nassau through 2027.
In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Islanders would split their home games between the Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn while a new area is being built in Belmont.
Although legislators held reservations about waiving the penalty instead of deferring it, all agreed that not waiving it would sabotage any plans for the Islanders to play at the Coliseum. In the end, the measure was approved unanimously.