Retiring Lynbrook Police Chief Joseph Neve can still remember the motivation that drove him to get involved in law enforcement. “I wanted to be in a position to help people in their time of need,” he said.
Neve, 65, did just that for 41 years with the Lynbrook Police Department before retiring on Nov. 29 after 27 years as its chief.
Neve was born in Richmond Hill, Queens, in 1953, and his family soon moved to Lynbrook. He graduated from Lynbrook High School in 1971, and then studied criminal justice at Nassau Community College. After taking several police department entrance examinations, he got a call from the Lynbrook department, and was assigned to the Nassau County Police Academy in February 1977. He graduated that June after studying police tactics and law.
Once on the force, Neve quickly rose through the ranks. He was promoted to sergeant in August 1982, made lieutenant in November 1987 and was sworn in as chief of the department on March 15, 1991, at age 37. Reflecting on his time enforcing the law in the village, he said he was satisfied with his legacy.
“I’m proud of the men and women of the Police Department,” he said. “My favorite part about the job was being able to lead the greatest group of police officers and civilian support staff. I will miss the members of the department and the other employees at Village Hall.”
When Neve became chief, he took an active role in the department. He revolutionized the LPD’s communications system, hired the first female officer in department history and added an inspector’s rank to help fortify the chain of command, while also focusing on training and professional development. In addition, Neve helped increase the number of detectives to investigate crime in the village and approved the installation of electronic traffic and parking tickets. When he stepped down, he was the longest-tenured chief in New York state.
“His dedication to duty was unquestionable,” Mayor Alan Beach said. “His knowledge and experience will be sorely missed by the department.”
Neve described himself as fair but firm with employees of the department, which comprises 49 police officers. Though he could be hard on his subordinates, he said, he admitted when he was wrong and was quick to apologize if he was.
In April 2017, Lynbrook was named one of the safest towns in the state to live in by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. The village was one of six Long Island municipalities to be named to the list of the 50 safest towns. Neve said he attributed the accolade to the “fantastic job” that the men and women on the police force do.
Deputy Mayor Hilary Becker called Neve an “outstanding leader,” and praised him for the department’s many accomplishments. “His focus on advancing our officers through training and education has reaped tremendous rewards for the Lynbrook Police Department,” Becker said, “[which] continues to lead the way not only for Long Island, but the entire country.”
Trustee Ann Marie Reardon said she had a great deal of respect for the outgoing chief. “Chief Neve dedicated 41 years of his life keeping Lynbrook safe,” she said. “It was an honor working with someone who always put our community first. It’s people like Chief Neve that make Lynbrook the best place to live.”
Longtime LPD Officer Brian Paladino will now lead the department. Paladino, 45, said Neve was dedicated to his position, even as he prepared to step down. “Before his last walkout, he was still very engaged in what was going on around here,” Paladino said. “His dedication to duty was second to none.”
Paladino was born in Jamaica, Queens, and his parents moved the family to Earle Avenue in Lynbrook in 1974. He graduated from Lynbrook High in 1991 — the year Neve became chief — and earned a degree in history from Queens College in 1996. Paladino joined the LPD in January 1997, and graduated from the county’s police academy that August. In October 2011 he was promoted to sergeant, and last February he was named lieutenant. He has earned many awards over the years, including the Elks Club’s Cop of the Year, twice.
Paladino said he believed that communication would be the key to his role, and that his goals included developing a comprehensive traffic safety plan for pedestrians around Regal Cinemas 13 and continuing community outreach efforts so that law enforcement officers know and understand residents’ needs. He added that he would like to help maintain community-oriented policing, which fosters communication between officers and residents.
As for becoming chief, Paladino said it was surreal. “I grew up in town, and I always sort of thought it to be an unattainable dream,” he said. “I never realized I would rise to this position.”
For his part, Neve said he was ready for retirement. “I’m looking forward to traveling,” he said, “and spending time with my grandchildren.”