Smithtown, NY - April 28, 2014 - Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta has introduced legislation (IR-1390) that contains three major components that would improve the overall operation of the Suffolk County Police Department. The first facet would require any Suffolk County police officer holding the rank above Captian to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree and that any police officer with the rank of Deputy Chief or higher would need to hold an advanced degree. Both degrees would have to be in a related field of study and from an accredited institution of higher learning.
“These officers are professionals and are paid the salaries of professionals and, therefore, should have the education of professionals,” said Legislator Trotta. “The Suffolk County Police Department is one of the largest departments in the country, as well as one of the highest paid in the nation and as such we should be setting the standard,” Trotta added.
Trotta retired from the Suffolk County Police Department at the end of December 2013, prior to his taking office as the newly elected Legislator for the 13th legislative district. Trotta spent 25 years in the police department, achieving the rank of detective and obtaining a master’s degree in Labor Management Relations.
Suffolk County participates in a tuition reimbursement plan for police officers seeking to pursue an education related to their field of employment. Moreover, the contract between the Superior Officers Association and Suffolk County provides members with an additional education benefit for completing a minimum of 120 college credits or obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. Legislator Trotta pointed out that superior officers receive this benefit whether or not they actually completed any college credits.
Secondly, this legislation also includes a provision requiring the highest ranking officers in the Police Department to obtain high-level clearance from the federal government to ensure that lower-level officers, who have this clearance, can communicate with their superiors about sensitive details of their cases. “I added this element because when I was assigned to the FBI Violent Crime Task Force, I worked on complex cases, had such clearance, but, unfortunately, others in the department did not so the communication process was not as constructive as it could have been.” “It is current practice for the hierarchy of Nassau and New York City police departments to have clearance so it is only fitting that Suffolk has this too,” added Trotta.
The third and final piece of this legislation is a direct result of the federal government’s investigation of the department’s handling of hate crimes, in particular, the tragic death of Marcelo Lucero. The Agreement signed by Suffolk County Executive Bellone and Police Commissioner Webber stipulates how the county’s police department is to deliver bias–free policing in the community and guidelines for the operation of the Internal Affairs Bureau.
“Clearly these same all important criteria should apply to our highest ranking police officials,” said Legislator Trotta.