Not Enough Detectives to Fight MS-13
Union: Only 7 Detectives in Gang Unit. Should be three times that amount
“We are digging up bodies in our backyards of our Preserves in Nassau County that are victims from the Violent Gang MS-13.” -John Wighaus. President/Nassau County Detectives Association
John Wighaus worked Narcotics back in the day.
In 1989, he was with the NYPD and was also assigned to a DEA Task Force. Now he’s the President of the Nassau County Detectives Association. John is an easy going guy, who fights hard for his membership. His message is simple. With more Detectives out in public, being proactive, the police can combat the vicious street gang MS-13 a lot better. It’s hard to believe, but Nassau County New York Detectives are not properly staffed to fight MS-13.
“Is it fair to say Detectives here are understaffed and overworked?” -Political Anchor and Reporter Dominic Carter
“Yes. We are budgeted for 360 Detectives in Nassau County. Currently we fall 40 Detectives short of that number. That affects our precinct squads, and our special squads who are all running understaffed.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
The bottom line: With Retirements, Promotions, and Rank and File Members not signing up to become Detectives, only looking at a $2,400 pay raise for 1st Year Detectives, there is a staff shortage.
“When a Detective’s day is done, his phone continually rings from the Assistant District Attorney handling the cases, the victims are calling, and witnesses are calling. So there is a great responsibility in it, and our pay steps to become a Detective, it’s a $2,400 hundred dollar raise.” -John Wighaus
All of this politically just doesn’t make sense. It represents a total contradiction. President Trump himself came to Nassau County and Suffolk County highlighting the problem of MS-13, and so did then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Yet there is a staff shortage of Police Detectives?
“Yes. Currently we only have 7 Detectives assigned to our Gang Unit. And that is down because of retirements, and the staffing level of Detectives. So as we’re trying to fight this vicious gang, we only have 7 gang Detectives in our unit.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“And how many should you have in your gang unit?”
“Well….I would love to have 20 Detectives in that unit.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“So when your short Detectives, what does that mean?”
“Well, currently right now, the County Executive has said she’s going to reopen the 6th Precinct, and the 8th Precinct. We are 100 percent behind those precincts being re-opened for the community. Unfortunately it’s going to be a 2-part effect because we don’t have enough Detectives to staff the 6th, or the 8th precinct. So while these residents of the communities can go to their precinct, their home-town precinct, but if they want to talk to a Detective, we’re either gonna have to bring someone in from other precinct OR their going to have to go to another precinct. It effects our staffing levels, like I said with the Gang Unit. 7 Detectives. Our Narcotics Unit. In 1998, we had about 70 Detectives there. Currently right now we have 29 Detectives while we combat an Opioid epidemic that we are facing right now.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“Why are the numbers falling short for Detectives?”
“Well right now it’s the police officers who do a great job out on the street, there is not an interest in becoming a Detective. Their not submitting letters to become Detective, like in the past. That goes for many reasons. Number one. There is a higher responsibility in becoming a Detective. You get the case. The Police Officer is the first at the scene at a robbery or a burglary, and he maintains that crime scene until the Detectives get there. Once the Detectives get there, they have to find evidence, interview witnesses. interview victims, ultimately arrest the perpetrator and then see to a successful conclusion in Court.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
Again, According to Union President Wighaus, it’s only a $2,400 pay raise initially to become a Detective, with a dramatically increased workload.
“But if your a police officer in police officer steps, you still get paid as a police officer until you can finish your police officer steps. Even if you are made Detective, your getting paid as a police officer until you finish those steps, and then you will start your Detective steps.”-John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“How long do those steps take?”
“PBA steps are 12 month steps and it takes 8 years to finish those steps. Detective steps are 15 month steps, and that goes 75 months, so it’s about 6 more years. So we’ve seen really where two labor, (PBA and Detective) their pay is co-mingled. Our personnel and accounting bureau, it’s so convoluted that we had 117 Detectives being paid the wrong way. So when police officers hear all these issues you know…The County couldn’t even pay all our guys correctly, and it was up to my 2nd Vice President to figure out everybody’s pay and then call out PNA and he continues to do that. So I don’t know what union person does that for the county anywhere else. We shouldn’t be telling them when our guys need a pay step or where they fall into their salary structure. -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“Are you frustrated?”
“Yes. I’m frustrated. The County Executive, she is aware of the problem. She has stated that we do to fix the Detective Division and make more Detectives. And she said that would be through collective bargaining.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
“So as we have been without a contract for a year now. Nothing has been done.” -John Wighaus
“So we are waiting on her. (County Executive Laura Curran) And the Police Commissioner, Patrick Ryder, he’s behind us. He wants to make Detectives. I know he is promoting the Detective Division with the Police Officers, and us as union members, we are doing that as well to try to get police officers to come make Detective. It is a great spot. It used to be everybody was inspired to be a Detective, and now, not so much.” -John Wighaus President/Nassau County Detectives Association
But change is on the way. Karen Contino, the spokeswoman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran issued this statement in response to this, nothing while still short detectives overall, recently in December, the PD designated 15 Detectives.
“The Department actively seeks to recruit members to designate as Detective’s, but due to contractual terms negotiated by the previous administration it still proves to be a challenge. Remedying that is a main focus of this administration’s collective bargaining process. We value the vital and important work the Detective Division provides to the County in continuing to keep major crime down including combating gang activity.” Karen Contino, Nassau County Spokeswoman
Below is the full audio of our interview with Mr. Wighaus.