Nassau County police officers’ morale and manpower are both down, which has led to a drop in the number of tickets that officers have written in recent years, according to the union leader for rank-and-file officers.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver blamed a 20-percent decline in tickets between 2010 and 2011—from 293,731 to 233,554—on decreased staff levels, officers being redeployed to other units and the ongoing realignment of the eight precincts into four.
“Each different precinct is like a family there, and when you merge and close them up it does affect morale,” Carver said at a news conference Monday. “Morale issues to the side, the job is getting done.”
The decline was subject of a police department internal investigation that began last fall after suspicions arose that there was a coordinated ticket-writing slowdown, which would violate state labor law.
The probe found 493 officers wrote 50-percent fewer tickets during an eight-month period in 2011. Out of that number, the investigation revealed 160 officers did not have a valid excuse for the decline.
“It’s not that these officers have no reasons,” said Det. Vincent Garcia, a police spokesman. He said invalidated excuses range from extended vacation time, changing posts and patrolling areas that are low in assignments.
Carver blamed the ticket-writing decline on slumping morale, which he attributed to a reduction in staff. Since the last hiring class was in 2008, early retirement incentives intended cut costs for the financially troubled county downsized the force from to 2,800 to 2,300, he said.
He added that fewer tickets were being written after the gutting of the motorcycle unit and tractor-trailer inspection unit from highway patrol.
The county reportedly became concerned about the decrease in tickets after less revenue came in than was projected.
“Every dollar, I guess, is counting towards the budget right now,” Carver said. “They have to look somewhere to find out why the numbers aren’t reading the same.”