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Letter: Nassau County Police Problems Started in 1980s

Smithtown's Public Safety Deputy Chief offers his insight on Nassau police department's issues.

Letter: Nassau County Police Problems Started in 1980s

Editor's Note: Smithtown Public Safety Deputy Chief Kevin McPadden, a retired Nassau County police officer, wrote a letter to the editor, published below, on the gradual demise of the Nassau County Police Department. 

On Dec. 12,  Nassau County Police  Commissioner Thomas Dale  was been removed from his position in what is being termed a politically motivated scandal. 

Now, Nassau's PBA Chief is calling for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to promote the top cop within the department, rather than hiring a new leader,  Newsday reports. 

McPadden writes: 

The demise of the Nassau County Police Department first began in the 80’s with the implementation of a fixed tour concept (Chart Orange) which in effect created two (2) police departments, night and day police. 

This work Chart led to blurred lines of authority and supervision, limited communication amongst the officers and failures in leadership and guidance by the more experienced personnel (now day cops). Newly hired officers (night cops) were quickly approached by precinct level union officials and made to understand that you are either with the union mentality (do only what is required of you) or you are on your own.  Fortunately most of the “on your own” officers quickly left their do nothing comrades in the dust and rose to significant levels of prestige in the Department.   

The implementation of Chart Orange was the first in a series of coup d’etats for increasingly powerful union officials who, based contract negotiations on the commonly used litigious concepts of past practice and arbitration, won lucrative and unprecedented contracts all the while effectively thwarting any attempts to recognize and support supervision and discipline amongst its members.  

First line supervisors were not accountable, were unwilling to accept their role in management and routinely avoided the challenge of even the low level union representatives. Department Commanders similarly avoided clashes with union officials in even the most egregious cases of misfitted and mal-contented members. Add to the mix an unusual amount of ex-city cops in the hiring process (some of which gave up stripes and bars to come to the N.C.P.D.) and the city cop mentality and unfortunately not all the good qualities came with them. 

The final demise has come with the concept of publicly holding the Commanders directly responsible for all aspects of productivity and crime control (NASTAT) despite the failures of first line supervision, union influence in attitude and activity and fiscal and budget restraints imposed by Department and County leadership. These commanders, despite their abilities and talents, soon realize that their efforts can easily be undermined by the public ridicule and criticism by an out of touch higher authority. They and their talents retire soon thereafter. 

Discussed here are just a few of the cancers that have infiltrated the department and seriously damaged the once prestigious reputation of the Nassau County Police Department. 

What’s not discussed here is the quantitative and qualitative effect this blight has had on effective and professional law enforcement in the County of Nassau. Where are the Costello’s, Crawford’s and Garside’s when you need them  ?        

Kevin McPadden
Retired Deputy Commanding Officer8th Squad Detectives

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