By Jennifer Corr
It’s been almost a year since the Brookville Police Department launched, beginning their coverage of the community by sending out patrol cars at midnight on June 1, 2022.
Before that, according to The Voice of the Village, Brookville’s official publication, The Village of Brookville had been served by the Old Brookville Police Department. But when Old Brookville opted to use its charter to form its own single-village police department at the end of the Five-Year Inter-Municipal Agreement, a new police department had to be formed. The participating communities would also have to find a new building since the Village of Old Brookville would not renew the lease for the building and would join the Muttontown police instead.
In 2022, the Villages of Brookville, Matinecock, Mill Neck and Cove Neck would form a new Five-Year Inter-Municipal Agreement, launching the Brookville Police Department.
Village of Brookville Mayor Daniel H. Serota said the process of forming this new department began about a year and a half ago.
“We had to get a charter,” Serota said. “We had to get a waiver for our chief [Kenneth Lack] to come work because he just retired from the Nassau County Police Department. We had to build police buildings, which entailed getting water and all utilities to that. We had to go to the Civil Service in Nassau County to get the police officers to transfer and we had to hire new ones, and we had to talk to the PBA (Police Benevolent Association) to make a contract. So it was a pretty herculean task. But we did it.”
And there were no tax increases formed by the creation of this new department.
Within the department, there are 17 officers, three support personnel and a Chief of Police working over two 12-hour shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.
Nine of the officers worked with the Old Brookville Police Department. “The great thing is that the majority of [the police officers] transferred from the Old Brookville Police Department to us,” Serota said.
“They were familiar with the streets already. It was second nature to them. We did hire a few new officers who had to go to the academy for training, but now they’re all up and running and everything is working extremely well.”
Lack had served as the chief of patrol at the Nassau County Police Department before getting this opportunity. He said he spent his first six months as chief of the Brookville Police Department doing purchasing, hiring and any conceivable task involved with forming a new police department.
“It’s been a wonderful transition,” Lack said. “The officers are committed to the communities we serve and we’ve received very good reviews from both the elected officials and the citizens who are very happy with our policing services.”
The police department’s headquarters is at 195 Brookville Road. The police sub-station on Cove Neck Road in Cove Neck, as well as the Portledge School, are used as relief points. Having multiple relief points allows for faster response time.
“We’re very rural people on large pieces of property,” Serota explained when asked why Brookville needed a focused police department rather than just using the county police department. “Some of our roads are private lanes and fire lanes and a local police force is much better equipped at going to these locations on a regular basis whereas the county covers huge areas and the officers would not be as familiar with local roads.”
The department has been using hybrid Ford Explorer police vehicles, outfitted with police ID decals as well as the latest policing equipment. And the Brookville Police Department’s patch has the background of the national police blue bordered by the uniform button gold. The central icon depicts the NYS Seal superimposed over the American Flag. The icon is surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves (which is a symbol of peace) and four stars (symbolizing the four villages the department serves). The banner element proudly carries the three words of “Courage, Service and Integrity.”
Some of the focus areas when it comes to crime are speeding, theft and home break-ins.
“It all centers around bail reform, which was a great idea if it was carried out properly,” Serota said. “What it has done is basically tell the criminals ‘there are no consequences. If you break into someone’s home, if you steal a car, you’re let out and you can do it again, again and again.’”
Lack explained that since the beginning of 2020, almost every police chief in New York he knows has also said they’ve seen an increase of crime in their area.
According to Lack, a car theft ring based out of Newark is responsible for the car thefts on the North Shore of Nassau County. Unfortunately, the key fobs that were meant to be convenient for the driver have created an opportune situation for thieves.
“They’re simply getting in the cars and driving away,” Lack said. “We’ve done an extensive community outreach to our citizens.”
Outreach includes being responsive through emails and sending out letters to residents.
“We meet our neighbors, meet our constituents and we ask them to remove the keys from the car when we saw the keys might be in the car, and they’ve been very responsive to that,” Lack said.