Suffolk County Police agreed to a new 10-year contract this that trims raises, mandates officer contributions to health plans and restores patrol jurisdiction over the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway to County cops.
The agreement was negotiated between the County and the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association without arbitration, and was touted this week as another measure the County is taking to trim its crippling $300 million deficit.
"This agreement is a big step forward in addressing the County's fiscal crisis, and with this agreement we can just start to see some light at the end of the tunnel," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement.
"However, I want to make it clear we still have a long way to go and much work to do to solve this problem," he said.
The new contract freezes the starting salary at $42,000 annually, and adds seven more pay steps for an officer to reach top-tier pay. It used to take five years, but it'll now take an officer 12 years of raises to max out on salary.
The contract also freezes pay until 2013, and allows for a 1.5 percent raise after that.
New employees will also have to pay 15 percent of their health benefit costs, a move that saves the County $17 million annually.
In return Suffolk cops will once again patrol the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway, a jurisdiction that was taken away from them under former county executive Steve Levy in 2008 to cut costs.
Th PBA still must ratify the contract.
County Exec: Foley Nursing Home to Be Sold
The long and often painful debate over the future of the County-run John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility approached its end this week with news the County plans to sell the property to nursing home managers Sam and Israel Sherman for more than $23 million.
The move marks a major turnaround in the County legislature, which led a very vocal fight against former County executive Levy when he tried to sell the facility in 2010 for $36 million.
Bellone this week said the sale will trim the County deficit by more than $30 million when the 264-bed nursing home's $10 million annual loss is factored in along with the sale price.
The Shermans - who run 13 nursing homes in New York, including one on Long Island, the SunHarbor Manor in Roslyn - will also set up a $5,000 scholarship for Suffolk County Community College students pursuing nursing careers.
Before announcing the sale, the County was exploring possible public-private partnerships with either North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Stony Brook University Medical Center or the Easter Seals to help manage the nursing home.
No patients will be affected by the sale, and Shermans plan to offer jobs to all the current Foley staff, Bellone said.
Narcan Drug Saves Man from Overdose
A Suffolk County officer revived a man who was suffering from a heroin overdose on Wednesday by administering an anti-overdose drug that the County has begun training staff to administer as part of a State pilot-program.
Police said officer Michael Alfieri, whose sector car was equipped with the anti-overdose drug Narcan, responded to a call at 6:50 a.m. on August 1 requesting help for a 27-year-old Mastic Beach man who'd overdosed on heroin.
Alfieri, who was the first responder to the scene, determined the man was unresponsive and not breathing. He administered Narcan, as well as oxygen, and revived the man, according to police. The man was then transported to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.
Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Port Jefferson) in May introduced a measure allowing the County to join the New York state pilot program equipping police cars and EMTs with Narcan kits.
According to Hahn, opiate deaths in Suffolk County increased by more than 70 percent between 2004 and 2011.
Hahn said civilians may also take a training course in the use of Narcan and get a Narcan kit by contacting the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (LICADD).