A handful of members of the Nassau Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Democratic activists demonstrated outside a security forum set up by Legislator Howard Kopel on Tuesday, calling into question his vote on the that will shutter two police precincts.
The activists claimed that the will be the one to close and called out Kopel to explain his vote.
“Our information is that the Fourth Precinct is one of the ones to be closed,” said Bob Rettinger, a corresponding secretary with Nassau PBA, who said that the Mangano administration should announce which precinct will close before Tuesday’s vote. “We can’t afford to lose a precinct. It’s not the way they should be balancing the budget, on the backs of the public’s safety.”
Kopel, who is up for reelection, was dismissive of the activists outside the event at .
“I believe that my arguments are pretty powerful within the legislature and Republican caucus,” he told Patch. “The Fourth Precinct is an important one to keep open. I believe we will.”
He added about the PBA, “Their goal is to protect their golden contracts. They should sit down with the county executive and negotiate in good faith.
"This is a forum for people to talk about real concerns. It’s not proper for them to disrupt it.”
But this response didn’t satisfy Democratic activist Jeremy, of Hewlett, who was outside the forum.
“I’d like to see him put his money where his mouth is,” said Jeremy, who did not want to give his last name for fear of repercussions at work. “It’s hard to take a man seriously that says he’ll keep the Fourth open but vote for a budget that closes two precincts.”
The Republican-majority legislature on Sunday passed along party lines a $2.63 billion spending plan that calls for the privatization of the county bus system, the closing of two police precincts and $51 million in potential union layoffs and about $80 million more in concessions.
Adam Moser, the Democrat challenging Kopel, had harsh words about Kopel’s vote.
“I am appalled by Legislator Kopel’s blind willingness to go along with any policy his party supports, regardless of how dangerous it is for the district he claims to represent,” Moser, who was not present at the forum, said in a statement. “Since his bosses in the legislature refuse to tell the public which precincts will be eliminated, is Legislator Kopel prepared to state unequivocally that the Fourth precinct will remain open? If not, then he has violated our trust.”
Inside the forum, audience members were introduced to several officers of the Nassau County Police Department as well as an assistant district attorney, who explained what their jobs are and how they are keeping the county safe.
“We are continuing to enjoy a decrease in major crime,” said Chief of Department
Steven Skrynecki. “We had an incredibly successful year in 2010. We’re doing it in the face of many challenges.” He did add, however, that there has been a recent increase in robberies and residential burglaries.
Residents also had the chance to raise questions, most of which centered on traffic enforcement.
Young Israel of Woodmere Rabbi Hershel Billet praised the safety officials.
“We’re very appreciative of the efforts of the police department, especially the Fourth Precinct,” he said. “They’ve always been here for us.”