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Suffolk County Boosting Police Force With Federal COVID Aid Amid Retirements And Growing Interest From NYPD Members

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There's a major effort to increase the ranks of law enforcement in Suffolk County.

The new hiring comes amid an increasing number of retirements and interest from members of the NYPD, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

If you want to be a police officer in the suburbs, now might be the time.

"I am announcing the largest hiring of police and law enforcement officers in Suffolk County history over a 12-month period," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

The money for the hiring boost is coming from American Rescue Plan funds to offset a loss in tax revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Suffolk is funding the police by increasing its ranks by more than 10% and training more than 700 new recruits, including:

  • 462 police officers,
  • 146 correction officers,
  • 20 probation officers, and
  • 7 deputy sheriffs.

Ten percent will speak Spanish.

Bellone said there have be a lot of inquiries from the ranks of the NYPD.

"We have received a large number of calls," Bellone said. "We don't have mandates here in Suffolk County."

No vaccine mandates and only 65% of the police force is fully vaccinated.

"Here in Suffolk, we are educating, not mandating. I think that really does make a difference," said Louis Civello of Suffolk County PBA.

Union officials said they think the interest has less to do with vaccines and more to do with how they are treated.

"Our local elected officials really have a long history of seeing the value in having police on the streets and having us patrol neighborhoods and having us stop crime before it happens," said Civello. "I think the public really appreciates us."

The pay is better, too. Top tier - almost twice what the NYPD pays.

Recruits, even if they're coming from another police job, must be in the pool of people who took Suffolk's 2019 police exam. They'll receive training based on reforms in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"How to better engage with the community, how to better deescalate crisis and they'll more than likely hit the streets wearing body cameras," said Acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron.

Suffolk won't give another police exam until 2023. For those not in the 2019 pool of applicants, there is a corrections officer exam in December.

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