Rockville Centre disbands auxiliary police

Volunteer officers petition for the village department’s return


Members of the Rockville Centre Auxiliary Police Department said they were caught off guard last week when they got a phone call notifying them that the locks on their facility, at 5 Chester Road, had been changed overnight.

“I am at a loss for words after, unfortunately, receiving a phone call this past Wednesday afternoon that the village was dissolving the auxiliary police that was established back in 1951,” Auxiliary Chief Edward Mussini said at the village meeting on Monday night.

Mussini, a 35-year volunteer member of the auxiliary force and a lifelong Rockville Centre resident, said that while the department’s numbers have dwindled in recent years, they continue to provide assistance in police-related activities such as traffic control, accident scene assistance and parade and community event support.

The auxiliary officers are trained and certified at the Nassau County Police Academy and overseen by the Rockville Centre Police Department.

“I’m trying to have some kind of understanding why a building that was built with grant money, secured between the village, state and county, is just being taken away,” Mussini said.

Village Administrator Nancy Howard said she was tasked with reviewing the 2025 budget, which, due to the rising cost of unfunded state mandates, has continued to impact village taxpayers.

“Certainly your manpower is voluntary, and it is respected and greatly appreciated,” Howard told Mussini. “I’m sorry that this came in the way of a phone call, and I will stand with you and say that it probably could have been communicated better. That doesn’t necessarily change the decision that we need to utilize that building differently.”

Howard said that the village examined the budget thoroughly, and made its decision based on how much manpower is actually provided to the village.

“What I’ve become aware of is that we have many instances where we put a call out and we don’t have the support,” she said.

The Auxiliary Department currently has three active volunteers based in the village, while the Police Department has continued to grow, adding four new members to its ranks in the past year.

“This board is totally involved in keeping the people safe in the Village of Rockville Centre,” Mayor Francis Murray said. “The FBI has deemed us the second-safest city in America with 25,000 or less people, and we’re very proud of that.”

Village Trustee Emilio Grillo said that the addition of four new uniformed officers didn’t render the Auxiliary Department obsolete, but it helped build up the regular force to the point where the village wanted to try to curtail expenses.

“The public should be aware of the fact that this board acts in the best interests of the village in the decisions we make,” Grillo said.

Police Commissioner Randy Dodd also apologized for the way the department was notified, acknowledging that it wasn’t done properly.

“You should be given the proper respect,” Dodd said. “I was hoping that you would go out of here with a nice plaque at a village board meeting to honor you, and we could still do that, but the decision has been made. I understand that you’re saying that we will no longer get auxiliary police, and that’s fine. We can get regular police officers, as many as we want.”

Lt. Marc Delman, of the auxiliary police, said it would be nice if they had attracted more volunteers, but it was difficult to recruit new members.

“Unfortunately, we don’t get some of the benefits a fire volunteer gets,” Delman said. “The tax break. The pension. We get nothing. So getting somebody to volunteer is very difficult.”

Delman added that a petition had been created on Friday, asking community members to voice their support for bringing the department back. The petition had more than 175 signatures as of press time on Tuesday.

Village resident Tammy Weeks said she was furious that the village had disrespected volunteers with honorable standing in the community.

“I watched the members of this auxiliary unit since I was a little girl,” Weeks said. “My neighbors were in it. And I’ve watched Chief Mussini leave in the middle of the night.”

Weeks said she had seen auxiliary volunteers help shovel a walk, repair a flat tire and help an older man working in his yard. “Go sit in their auxiliary unit and watch what they do firsthand,” she said. “When your kids are at the park drinking at night, and your cops aren’t in there. He’s in there taking their beer away, driving them home to get your children home safe.”

Despite the show of support for the Auxiliary Department, the village did not make the decision to shut it down hastily.

“We’ve been monitoring you for about two years,” Murray told Mussini, explaining the fiscal priorities at hand. “It made sense for our residents, and the money they pay, to turn this into an annex for the Police Department, where it can be used 24/7. Your vehicles, for the most part, sat there at the Auxiliary Police Department, not being used. We have the mileage. So you have to understand that for the residents, the taxes they pay to be here and the safety of this village, it made all the sense in the world to use that building for what it was there for.”