Blakeman administration recruiting armed residents to aid in county emergencies

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Blakeman administration recruiting armed residents to aid in county emergencies
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. (Photo courtesy of the county executive)

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s administration is looking to expand its law enforcement by bringing in provisional emergency special deputy sheriffs – or armed Nassau county property or business owners – to aid in protecting the county during emergencies.

The role of the special deputy sheriffs is “for the protection of human life and property during an emergency,” according to a Nassau County ad. The county did not specify what would constitute an emergency.

“The safety and security of all residents in Nassau County is our paramount concern,” the ad states.

Specifically being sought out for the positions are former law enforcement and military veterans.

The addition of this special deputy sheriff position has come under scrutiny since it was announced.

This includes Nassau County Legislative Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, who cautioned about the danger of such individuals.

“Nassau County isn't the Wild West,” DeRiggi-Whitton said in a statement to Alb Media. “We already have one of the largest and best trained police forces in the nation. The last thing we need during an emergency is a bunch of untrained residents running around with guns, playing junior detective at the behest of the county executive.”

The posting comes after a 6.5% drop in major crimes over the first 11 months of 2023, as well as a 12.9% drop in all crime in January  2024.

According to Newsday, many legislators and union representatives were unaware of the posting and new sheriff department positions until the publication had asked. The implementation of the special deputy sheriffs was not sought out through legislative or union approval, Newsday reported.

Efforts to reach Blakeman’s office and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department were unavailing.

The county is looking for individuals who are skilled in using firearms, able to work under stress and can maintain records and prepare reports.

Emergency special deputy sheriff applicants are required to be from 21 to 72 years old, a United States citizen, a Nassau County resident, property or business owner, have a pistol license, consent to a full background check, including mental health history, supply a fit for duty letter from a doctor, consent to random drug testing and not have any drug or alcohol issues in the prior five years.

Applicants must also possess an associate's degree or a minimum of 30 college credits, complete basic training, have never been convicted of a felony and have no misdemeanors in the past five years.

The special deputy sheriffs would only have police power during a declared state of emergency by the county executive, according to the ad.

The special deputy sheriffs would be paid a $150 stipend for each day they are active during an emergency, with individuals required to be available at any hour and any day of the year.

Suffolk County employs a similar position of special deputy sheriffs, but they are appointed by the sheriff directly and serve more as community ambassadors, Newsday reported. These positions are unpaid and not required to possess firearm licenses or training as it is not part of their duties.

A Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson told Newsday that these special deputy sheriffs are not utilized for emergencies, unlike the Nassau County positions.

Nassau County has about 60 deputy sheriffs employed under the sheriff’s department, predominantly working at the East Meadow county jail, according to Newsday.

While deputy sheriffs have the same authority as police officers, they do not respond to 911 calls. Rather, they execute warrants, serve court orders and conduct evictions.

The application deadline for these positions was on March 31, and it is not known how many individuals applied. It is also not known how many positions the county is seeking to fill and how applicants would be screened and subsequently trained.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. There is an election coming up, and now a Trump sycophant wants an opportunity to create a volunteer force of “special deputy sheriffs.” With guns, no less. What could go wrong?

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