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WSHU's Charles Lane follows the different paths taken by Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island to undergo mandated police reform.

Nassau Police Resists Further Reforms As Lawmaker Move To Final Vote

Elvert Barnes

Nassau County lawmakers moved a police reform plan to its final stage with minimal changes from what the police originally proposed three months ago. The county’s public safety committee approved 6-1 sending to the full legislature a reform plan that requires body cameras, increases training, but falls short of many other changes that reformers have pushed for.

In a six-hour meeting, Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder opposed suggestions that residents don’t trust the police to police themselves. He pushed back and said his officers are trusted when Westbury Democrat Siela Bynoe questioned whether the department should have an inspector general.

“We’re not Minneapolis. We’re not Chicago. This is Nassau County,” Ryder said.

Freeport Democrat Kevan Abrahams, the legislature's minority leader, said Ryder should reconsider allowing an inspector general to review complaints from civilians.

"They have a very low threshold of trust for the police department," Abrahams said.

Republican lawmakers were largely appreciative of Ryder’s presentation. Last week, Nassau Democrats, who are in the minority, proposed several amendments to the state-mandated reform plan.

At length, and with an auditorium full of police officers, Ryder detailed how current policies are sufficient and further changes are unnecessary.

“The Nassau County Police Department has put so much oversight on top of its officers, I’m concerned about their wellbeing,” he said. “Because they’re concerned that everything that’s going to be looked at.”

Whereas Suffolk County proposed halting consent-only searches during traffic stops and will increase funding to the county’s Human Rights Commission to intake police misconduct complaints, Nassau’s biggest change will be body-worn cameras.

Ryder said body cameras will cost nearly $2 million to hire 12 additional civilian analysts. He said this does not include the cost of the camera, data storage, or the stipend that will likely have to be paid for police to wear them.

Republicans are likely to pass the plan next Monday.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.