The impending retirement of hundreds of Nassau County police officers has residents worried about public safety, but police brass insist that crime is down and neighbors have nothing to fear.
"Nassau County is a very safe community, and it will remain that way," said acting commissioner Thomas C. Krumpter.
The number of police on the street is at the lowest level since the late 1950s, with 400 officers expected to retire by the end of next year -- 150 this year, and 250 the next.
Krumpter said the department is dealing aggressively with the rise in retirements, and the department should have roughly 500 new officers by sometime next year to replace the ones who are leaving. He added that crime is down 10 percent in the county.
But the Nassau PBA president said a four-year hiring freeze put the county in this position, and the retirements will have an impact.
"What it means for the public is you're losing veteran police officers with years and years of experience," said James Carver.
The acting commissioner couldn't say why so many officers are retiring at once, but he insisted Nassau's ongoing budget problems won't block the hiring of new cops.
Residents like Bob Taylor aren't so sure.
"They're trying to cut the budget, and cutting the budget means getting rid of people and not replacing them," he said.