Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James McDermott has highlighted a shortage of police helicopter pilots in Nassau County, an issue that underlines a need for more pilots in the area.
McDermott referenced several occasions where officers on the ground have called for aviation, and instead receive either a response saying, ‘no pilot available’ or no response at all. The union also noted that there have been numerous instances when Suffolk police or the NYPD have had to send in their own helicopters.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder emphasised that Nassau was in the process of recruiting more staff: “The department has actively posted requests for qualified officers and continues to train pilots for these positions; however, this training is lengthy and labour intensive." In the meantime, however, the union is pushing County Executive Laura Curran to authorise more overtime in order to fill the staffing gaps.
In response to News 12 Long Island, Legislator Denise Ford, Chair of the Public Safety Committee said that the aviation unit had a budget for US$200,000 in overtime last year, whilst this year, she noted, that budget is $660,000, which should include two more pilots, as a ‘matter of public safety’, as she deemed it.
The police department noted that the two trainee pilots are nearly ready to fly – the union explained that one will be finished in two months, and the other in a year from now. Further response is yet to be had from the country executive’s office.