Patrick Ryder was sworn in Monday as the new Nassau County Police commissioner after he faced an allegation of sexual harassment before the Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved his appointment.
Ryder, who took over as acting commissioner in July after his predecessor retired, vigorously denied the allegation. The legislature stood be the commissioner after hearing that the anonymous claim was investigated since it was received over the weekend.
“I did not and I would not degrade a woman ever,” a choked-up Ryder told the panel at the outset of his confirmation hearing. “It is not true.”
His promotion despite the allegation stood in contrast to a long list of high-profile men nationwide whose careers were ended after women increasingly began reporting allegations of sexual harassment in the past year. Newsday reported the complainant alleged that Ryder called her “legs.”
Newly elected Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran backed her appointment of Ryder despite the claim. So did all 19 lawmakers on the Republican-majority legislature, members of which heaped praise on him before voting the approve his confirmation.
Ryder also addressed questions that were raised about his outside consulting business, which he said he would no longer operate while serving as commissioner. It was noted that he sought approval from the county’s ethics board before starting that business.
Susan Gottehrer, the director of the Nassau chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Bureau, said Ryder should discontinue the policy of honoring warrants from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which she argued is conflating undocumented immigrants with violent gang members.
“When people don’t trust the police, they stop reporting crime, including MS-13 crime,” she said. “They stop acting as witnesses.”
She noted authorities emphasize that they don’t care about the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses, but that undocumented immigrants are less likely to come forward under the current policy of honoring ICE warrants that end in deportation. She also expressed concerns about Ryder’s focus on data that fuels the real-time intelligence policing strategy he spearheaded during his time leading the asset forfeiture unit.
Ryder said he is setting up community councils so that he can work more closely with communities across the county. He added that he goes to “painstaking lengths” to ensure the department follows all laws while collecting data and that it will “work closely with ICE under the rule of law.”