Nassau County goes back to 1899 when it was established and named after William of Nassau. The county covers a number of cities, villages, and towns, with its county seat in Mineola. The county covers an area of 453 square miles, and has a population of 1,358,343 people. With a population that grows every year and large villages and towns like Hempstead scattered around, the Nassau County Police Department is kept busy by the state of law and order in the region.
Neighbor to Suffolk County, Nassau County also covers some area of Long Island, and is among one of the most densely populated counties in New York State. The county is connected with NYC through railroads and highways, and occupies a central position in the metropolitan NY area. The county has 2 cities (Glen Cove and Long Beach), 3 towns (Oyster Bay, Hempstead, and North Hempstead), and a total of 64 villages. Nassau County is known as one of America’s most affluent neighborhoods, with a median household income at $100,000 per annum.
The Nassau County Police Department
Established on April the 16th, 1925, Nassau County is almost a century old. When the department began, it consisted of 55 special deputy sheriffs and 1 fingerprint expert. At the moment the department covers an area of 287 square miles and houses some 2,400 police officers. Patrick J. Ryder is currently serving as the Police Commissioner whereas Kevin P. Smith is the Police Chief. The department covers 7 precincts along with a number of specialized units.
The rise in crime in the 1920s led to the establishment of the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), abolishing the then fashion of constables with a consolidated police force. Not all jurisdictions joined the consolidated force, however. The two cities—Glen Cove and Long Beach—maintain their own autonomous police departments but take help from NCPD’s specialized units such as the aviation unit. The expansion of the police force came as a combined result of acceleration in suburbanization and a surge in crimes following the Second World War. Civil disarray in NYC in the 1970s, which Nassau County neighbors; also contributed to the need the residents felt to build a case for a consolidated police department.
The number of employees in the department has significantly diminished; even with 2400+, it’s still one of the country’s largest agencies. In the last decade, the NCPD has been the focus of much debate, with Mineola even considering the conception of a separate police force. The idea was consequently shot down by villagers in a 2006 voting, with 1288 villagers in favor losing to the 2936 voters against it. These numbers highlight the significance and reverence the NCPD holds in the region. Previously housing 8 total precincts, three were voted to be closed in 2011, as well as closing down the crime lab. They have, however, reopened since then. This hints at the important position the Nassau County Police Department holds in the region.
The dissatisfaction with the “reduction of numbers” in the department compared to the immediate post-WWII era and the last decade is largely the sole reason for these extreme demands. The reduction itself is explainable: in the aftermath of the World War, soldiers returning from war found viable and easy jobs in the NCPD, which led to a mushrooming of the force into one of the biggest in the country. Most of those veterans having retired by now and not many returning from wars in the last decade, the numbers naturally went down.
The Nassau County Police Department has had its fair share of notable and notorious cases, most prominently having been involved in The Honeymoon Killers Case and 1993 train shootings.
The basic philosophy that drives the NCPD is its orientation to serving the civilian population. The concept of a community is highly prized—an example is how NCPD officers visit the homes of people reporting crimes instead of having the reporters visit them at the precinct. The Nassau County Police Department has thus been deemed an exemplary force in a study titled Varieties of Police Behavior; released in 1968 by sociologist James Q. Wilson.
The NCPD has 3 major divisions:
- The Patrol Division
- The Support Division
- The Detective Division
The NCPD also trains new recruits for 9 months and assists by offering supervision and administrative support. The NCPD also employs civilians as typists, clerks, School Crossing Guards, Public Safety Officers, and for telecommunication purposes. A successful ambulance service, maintained by the NCPD itself, has been around for over 50 years. Its specialized units include:
- Emergency Services
- Mounted Unit
- Specialized Detective
- Auxiliary Police
Salary and Benefits
Nassau County has among some of the most well-paid police officers in the country, with many jumping to $54,891 or even $64,040 with the help of appraisals. At the moment the starting salary is set at $34,000. Although the figure might look meek in comparison to NYC’s more generous $41,975, the salaries are added with frequent appraisals and have the potential to move up to $116,955 for veteran officers, which is far more than what a veteran NYC officer makes.
Ranks within the Force
Civil service exams decide recruitments and promotions of existing officers up till the rank of captain. Further promotions, ranging from detective to the chief of department, are decided largely by the Police Commissioner. The ranks within the NCPD, in the ascending order, are:
- Police Officer or Detective
- Sergeant or Detective Sergeant
- Lieutenant or Detective Lieutenant
- Captain or Detective Captain
- Deputy Inspector
- Deputy Chief
- Assistant Chief
- Chief of Division
- Chief of Department
- Police Commissioner
Recruitment to the Nassau County Police Department comes as a result of the Nassau County Police Exam, which is conducted once in every 4 to 6 years, depending on how soon their list of successful candidates expires. The last exam was conducted in January 2018, and the results were posted online. The department will now be calling the successful candidates over a period of 4 to 6 years depending on how high they scored on their tests.
The written exam is the first step in the process, largely focused around multiple choice questions that test grammar, vocabulary, math, memory, problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, etc. Physical ability tests then follow, including medical and psychological tests. Once a candidate has been successfully recruited, they will be trained at their Police Academy located in Massapequa Park.