Nassau County has been named the safest community in America in 2020, according to a new report by U.S. News & World Report. The online publisher gave the county a 100 score in the category.
In a statement, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran explained, “U.S. News assessed 3,000 municipalities across the nation and scored them relative to one another across seven metrics in three key areas—crime, injuries and public safety capacity—with individual metrics including violent crime rate, vehicle crash fatality rate, the share of public safety professionals within a population and per capita spending on health and emergency services (local fire and police protection). No one scored higher than Nassau.”
Overall, Nassau was rated as the 136th healthiest county in the country based on a number of measurements, including safety.
“It’s obviously based on the data, on those metrics that they had,” Curran told Anton Media Group. “It includes everything from our crime numbers to how many folks in law enforcement live here, to the investment we make in law enforcement. All of those things together gave us 100 [score].”
In a press release she noted, “I want to thank the brave men and women of the Nassau County Police Department, law enforcement, and our first responders, who deserve the credit for Nassau being the safest community in America.”
Asked about the relationship between the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) and the residents, she replied, “I really believe there is trust going both ways between law enforcement and the community. I think we have a god culture here of community relations. It makes everybody safer.”
She added, “But I’m always trying to make it better. Since coming into office, I’ve tripled the number of community relations officers and POP (problem oriented policing) officers. It’s not necessarily adding overhead, but it’s making [that area] a priority. The POP cops interact with the civic groups.”
The executive said the county is following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order earlier this summer mandating that communities formulate and present plans for police reforms by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding.
In a statement, the governor said, “We have to address the tensions and lack of trust between our communities and the law enforcement that serves them. Local elected officials must work together with the community and their police forces, to develop and implement reforms for a safer, fairer policing standard.”
Curran said her administration is engaging the community as much as possible. In addition to the existing Police and Community Trust, she initiated the Commissioner’s Community Council, both of which bring community leaders and the police leadership together.
“They give us input and insight from the ground [level],” Curran observed of these entities. “I want to get as much input as we can and also inform residents how we will confirm with the governor’s executive order.”
George Floyd Not Us
In an interview with Anton Media Group, NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder gave his thoughts on the issue.
“How would you characterize your department’s relationship with the minority community?” he was asked.
“Outstanding,” he replied. “Our relationship has been phenomenal. We’ve always had a strong relationship. We’re building on a foundation of community policing since we were formed in 1925.”
He talked of a strong outreach program, mentioning his meetings with minority civic and religious leaders.
“It’s not just about community relations right now,” the commissioner said. “There is an anger out there, particularly because of what happened with George Floyd. We understand that.”
Floyd was a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking weeks of protests and riots.
“We in Nassau County are not about what happened in Minneapolis,” Ryder said. “Are we without sin? No, we have our sins, too. Do we have to fix some things? Sure we do.”
He added, “The men and women of this department are great police officers and great communicators with the community. Do we make mistakes? Can we train better? Can we work better at getting better? Yes we can.”
Additional reporting by Dave Gil de Rubio.