Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone appointed Wednesday a permanent police commissioner, Edward Webber—the same top cop who has been the acting commissioner since January.
Webber, a 40-year veteran, was selected after a seven-month search that included over 75 applicants and 11 interviews by an independent committee. Bellone also picked Risco Mention-Lewis, an assistant Nassau County district attorney, as deputy police commissioner.
“Webber was my choice for a number of reasons,” said Bellone while joined by police brass and lawmakers at police headquarters in Yaphank. “They all boil down to him being the right man at the right time.”
Weber, 65, who has more than 40 commendations for service, has experience that stems not only from serving in numerous roles in the department. He also has a background in finance and is a certified public accountant.
The Suffolk county legislature will vote on the nominations next month.
“In today’s economical environment, to have a commissioner that not only understands the budget set, but maximize it, is critical,” said Bellone.
“I assure that I will not only maintain the high caliber of service that you have come to expect from the Suffolk County Police Department,” said Webber. “But I will constantly re-evaluate what we are doing in attempt to make a great department even greater.”
During the time that Webber has served as acting commissioner, he has reduced overtime by $2 million while having fewer officers than the previous year.
“Want to scare a Suffolk County cop? Start talking about the budget,” said James Burke, the chief of department. “To have Ed Webber with his background as a police officer to watch out for the interest of this department and the county in the fiscal sense makes all of us sleep well at night.”
Bellone gave high praise to the newly appointed commissioner’s work with a department that the county executive once called “demoralized and in many ways dysfunctional,” saying that Webber has brought the department in the right direction.
Webber has implemented intelligence-led policing, which has aided in identifying crime patterns. Bellone said Webber also helped boost morale, so much so that Bellone said he is regularly thanked by police officers for the change in leadership.
The commissioner is in the planning stages of several new initiatives that aim to maximize resources, keep roadways and waterways safe and fight prescription pill abuse and gun crime.
To curb recidivism, Webber will work with Mention-Lewis, who will be making history as both the first female and first African American deputy commissioner in the county. She has spent the last 12 years working on intervention strategies to reduce the number of residents repeatedly committing crimes.
“The biggest driver of crime is recidivism,” said Bellone. “The appointment of Risco Mention-Lewis means that the Suffolk County Police Department will be fully engaged on the goal of breaking recidivism as an effective crime reduction strategy.”
Through these initiatives, the newly appointed leaders said they hope to not only protect taxpayers, but stop crime.
“Every criminal in Suffolk County should be shaking in their boots,” said Majority Leader DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville).