Suffolk County hiring hundreds of law enforcement officers in next year

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced on Monday the hiring of 705 law enforcement personnel over the next 12 months. Bellone said 462 recruits will join the Suffolk County Police Department, 146 will become correction officers, 20 will be probation officers, and 77 will be sheriff's deputies. 

The dramatic boost will help maintain the county's safety, according to Bellone. Total crime in Suffolk has dropped 6.8% year to date.

The jobs will be funded by federal emergency COVID-19 funds received under the American Rescue Plan. 

"We have applied and utilized those funds in ways to protect the long-term security and safety of the county," he said.

Suffolk County is using more than $70 million to compensate for a loss of property tax revenues during the pandemic.

"Sales tax revenues are increased and that will pay for the police as we move forward," Dr. Martin Cantor, an economist, told FOX 5 NY.

The number of law enforcement members will fill the spots of those who retired and ultimately be higher than pre-pandemic; 10% of the new hires will be Spanish-speaking.  

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Unvaccinated members of the NYPD may also take on the roles after the city's vaccination mandate has some scrambling.

"This unprecedented level of hiring will restore the staff of SCPD and keep Suffolk as one of the safest places to reside," acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said.

Louis Civello of the Suffolk PBA called this a win-win. 

"There are many places where they're defunding the police departments but that's not the case in Suffolk County," he said.

While Suffolk County has no vaccination mandate, Bellone said that officers looking to come from the NYPD need to have taken the police test in 2019. All candidates will be pulled in the order in which they scored to begin the background check process.

The next Suffolk County police test is in 2023.