Justice for All: Nassau County PD's new academy highlighting community engagement nears completion
The Nassau County Police Department's new academy is almost complete.
For nearly 30 years, the department has not had a training facility to call its own.
In May 2019, News 12 was there as the county broke ground on a new state-of-the-art $54 million police academy.
Fast forward two years later to the almost complete facility on the campus of Nassau Community College in Garden City.
News 12 got an exclusive look inside the facility in January. In June, there was more progress— classrooms are starting to take shape, and a new basketball court has been completed.
Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says this is not just a training and intelligence center for police, this building is supposed to be for the community so they can better understand the people they serve.
“This new academy, not only will it train our officers better, this whole first floor is dedicated to community,” he says.
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Officials say the 90,000-square-foot building will concentrate on community engagement, a practice they're already putting to good use.
Earlier this month, the new basketball court was used for the first JoJo Wright Invitational, in memory of a 15-year-old Uniondale High School athlete killed in a crash in January.
It's events like this that police brass hope will create a tighter bond between their officers and the communities they've sworn to serve and protect.
“If you understand the culture of the area you police, you police it better and that's the key to what we're trying to teach in this building,” says Ryder.
Two weeks ago, 161 new Nassau County police recruits were sworn in inside the new facility.
Police and county officials say this is the most diverse group of recruits they've had in years, but only 13% of the officers in training are minorities.
“I think we are making strides, we are not done yet, there's a lot more work to be done,” says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Out of 161 recruits, 139 are white, four are Black, 12 are Hispanic and five are Asian.
“I feel like there is diversity in the police department, but there could always be more,” says recruit Brenee Reed.
The department has recently come under fire for its lack of diversity by a civil rights group.
Curran recently created the Nassau County Police Diversity Committee to look at ways to recruit more people of color and to help them with training, studying for the exam and mentoring.
This comes as the department is hoping to recruit and train more men and women of color in this academy so the force will mirror the communities they patrol.
The new academy is expected to have an official grand opening to welcome members of the public in September.
Reporting and text by Antoinette Biordi.