On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Port Washington residents will go to the polls to vote for the incumbent police commissioner or for a new face to take her place.
Angela Lawlor Mullins, the chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port Washington Police District, has been serving on the three-member board since 2010. Stephen Scott, a resident of Port Washington, is her challenger for a three-year term.
Before her time as a commissioner, Mullins worked for the New York Police Department in various capacities. She worked undercover in the intelligence unit and the Manhattan robbery squad, and in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, among other positions.
Mullins says her background makes her more attuned to the goings-on of the Police Department. She said she believes this can be helpful to assist with the needed adaptation of the district’s police force to handle newer issues like school shootings.
Scott works as a peace officer for the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center and as an instructor of general topics and defense tactics for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. In the past, he has handled business negotiations for numerous construction projects.
He likened the police commissioner’s position to that of a mayor rather than a police officer. A commissioner should know the rules, regulations and police procedures, but the main duties should be on the business side of department operations such as negotiating contracts, calculating the budget and making sure that officers have the equipment they need to do their duties effectively, Scott said.
The Port Washington Police Department has been looking to expand or find a new home for a number of years. Mullins said she expects the project to move forward this year because the board has decided to expand the current building instead of seeking a new location.
Mullins said that she voted against previously suggested locations due to their low accessibility and visibility to the public and was a major proponent for staying in the present building.
Scott said that “for the last nine years, the project has still been in the conceptual stage.” Instead of attending police conferences in Florida, the board should have made a phone call to the Nassau County Police Department, which recently redesigned two police precincts, he said.
“They would be more than happy to show them their state-of-the-art facilities,” he said.
Regarding the negotiation of a new union contract with the PBA, which has not been renewed since it expired last December, Mullins cited her achievement in having settled three contracts during her tenure.
She emphasized that these contracts incorporated a minimal number of arbitration clauses and were executed without the need for arbitrators, who were relied on by past boards and can be costly.
Mullins fought for a seat at the table during these negotiations and at the beginning was met with opposition from her fellow board members. She believed it was important to be involved with the financial aspects of the Police Department “to see how the taxpayer money is spent.”
The board will meet with the union for further negotiations on Thursday.
Scott stressed the need to lengthen the contracts made with the PBA from their current term of two years to five years. He said that the extension would be beneficial to both parties because present negotiations have taken about a year and a half, so once the deal is forged it is about time to begin bargaining again.
Looking to the future, Mullins discussed the idea of obtaining a police dog for the department to aid in the influx of commuters and the growing population in the area.
“They are one of the best tools for police departments, large and small,” she said.
Scott spoke of using current infrastructure more efficiently, namely, a half-million dollar federally mandated radio system that does not have the antennas installed to allow it to work properly.
“It’s a huge waste in my opinion,” he said.
Voting will take place at the Polish American Hall from noon to 9 p.m.