Battle the union, but support our cops

May 11, 2015

by Steve Levy

Hosted on Long island Business News

Suffolk County is facing a $180 million shortfall. Some officials suggest further borrowing to fill the gap, but county leaders should balk at becoming too reliant on the practice. In the last few years the county has bonded for salaries (the first time in County history), sold off it’s buildings only to lease them back, and backloaded overly generous contracts. County Executive Bellone even suggested that the county defer paying the debt it owes.

It has been misleadingly claimed that the executive has done his part eliminating a thousand jobs off the payroll. Actually, the lion’s share of those positions were reduced in the budget he inherited. To his credit, he’s kept that level from rising, but that alone won’t do the trick.

The real money is in the police department, where salaries now often exceed $200,000. Wasteful practices such as having able bodied police doing office work or keeping expensive officers on state highways must be reformed, but won’t unless there is a willingness to take on the powerful police unions.

Many believe that battling with overbearing police unions makes one anti-cop. Not so. The cops on the front line have a tough job and deserve our support. It’s disturbing to hear the political left jump on a few cases of police misconduct as being emblematic of the norm. You try bringing a six foot-five, 350 pound man to the ground after he resists arrest. How would you react to a suspect grabbing your gun?

There are hundreds of thousands of police stops a year with just a slight fraction resulting in a suspect’s death. If we are going to have a conversation about these confrontations, perhaps it should focus less on the mindset of the cops protecting us, and more on why we’ve developed a culture where so many people think the way to react to an officer’s demands is to resist arrest.

Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive 2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman.