Nassau reassigns dozens of plainclothes police officers

Activists say plainclothes officers are essential in helping to engage the community. (5/22/14)

ELMONT - Dozens of plainclothes Nassau County police officers have been reassigned to uniformed patrol, and some community members are concerned the move will affect public safety.

Sergio Argueta, from the S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth group, says plainclothes officers have been instrumental in improving the community's relationship with police. Known as "pop cops," or "problem-oriented police," the officers attend community meetings and engage with residents.

"It makes it so individuals don't have to be afraid of these officers, they feel more comfortable," says Argueta.

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As News 12 Long Island reported, when the county consolidated its police precincts, 48 additional officers were shifted to the plainclothes unit. The department now confirms about 40 officers will be put back on uniformed patrol for the rest of the year. A police department spokesman says it will keep overtime costs down and will not affect the crime rate.

Nassau Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont) says the county claimed new revenue sources would pay for the new union contracts and that nothing was ever mentioned about cuts. A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano (R) says the issue is not related to union contracts and the police commissioner may make adjustments to the assignments.

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