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Lynbrook police chief looks back on Year One

Brian Paladino outlines goals

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After a little more than a year as Lynbrook’s police chief, Brian Paladino said that improving the relationship between officers and civilians is among his main goals going forward.

“I believe there is a huge stigma against police officers, because the average portion of New York state believes that police officers are people of privilege who abuse their power and make [malicious] decisions,” he said.     “. . . But through my position, I want to make people recognize that the Lynbrook Police Department is a professional company.”

Paladino, 46, was named chief on Nov. 30, 2018, and has implemented many new measures since then. He has, for example, increased the frequency with which officers visit schools and houses of worship, and meet with residents in their neighborhoods.

“I tell my cops to dress well, to behave well and to be confident on the job, because if you fall apart, the community can’t count on you,” Paladino said. “When most people have encounters with cops, it’s the worst day of their life. I try to encourage my cops to understand people’s side and to let their kind side show.”

Most officers across the state, he said, do the right thing, and the few who don’t are usually reprimanded. His main goal, he said, is for residents to know that the LPD is there to help keep Lynbrook “a healthy and happy place to live.”

Mayor Alan Beach praised Paladino for his efforts after taking over as chief from Joseph Neve, who retired in November 2018 after 27 years in the job. “Chief Paladino has been a tremendous asset to the village,” Beach said. “He has stepped in for Joe Neve seamlessly, and has brought enthusiasm and many ideas with him to the position.”

Paladino was born in Jamiaca, Queens, but has lived in Lynbrook most of his life, and said he first developed an interest in law enforcement when he was 17. After graduating from Lynbrook High School, he worked for a summer at the Department of Public Works, where he met many police officers. His interactions with them inspired him to take the Nassau County police test. In 1997 he was hired by the Lynbrook department, but he said he never envisioned becoming its top officer.

“Chief is a position that I never thought I would be eligible for, and when I first got the position I was nervous,” he recalled. “I never thought I had what it takes to be a leader of the department, but you have to take a chance.”  

The hardest part of his new post, he said, is dealing with negative people, though he added that he didn’t mind being challenged.

Paladino made the department paperless by using roll call software to communicate with officers digitally, and he increased the use of data analysis to understand better where and how to deploy officers. He also adopted a new approach when working with staff called the Police Officer Interaction Program. Officers fill out daily digital reports of their activities, which their supervisors review before giving performance feedback.

“The purpose of the new approach is to help each cop to recognize their work, to help them improve and to give cops a better understanding of what they’re doing,” Paladino said. “Maybe their work is more than just numbers, so this gives them a better idea of overall performance.”

The new approach, LPD staffers said, is working. “When you know what you’re supposed to do, it helps,” Inspector Sean Murphy said. “Working with Paladino is a fantastic experience because he’s a true leader and knows us all by name.”

Joseph Cipolla, lieutenant of the Lynbrook Police Benevolent Association, echoed Murphy’s sentiments. “I’ve worked with Paladino for 22 years, and his main concern is the police officers and those that we serve,” Cipolla said. “Paladino digs deeper to help cops not just look at numbers, but results, and this has helped the department a lot.”  

Paladino said he hoped to see fewer car crashes and crimes in 2020, and he wanted officers to visit businesses more often to make their presence known.

“I don’t always get comfortable with what I do,” he said. “When you are comfortable with your job, that means you’re slacking and not learning.”