Retired Nassau County Police Chief McCarthy challenges Staley in Port commish race

Retired Nassau County Police Chief McCarthy challenges Staley in Port commish race
Retired Nassau County Police Chief Sean McCarthy. (Photo courtesy of Sean McCarthy)

Sean McCarthy, a retired Nassau County Police chief with more than 30 years in law enforcement, is vying for the position of Port Washington’s police commissioner, advocating for community engagement and the positive methods in which police can aid mental health-related calls.

The Port Washington Police Department’s Board of Commissioners is comprised of three commissioners. The individuals currently serving these roles are Brian G. Staley Sr., Angela Lawlor Mullins and JB Meyer.

McCarthy is challenging Staley, Port’s first Black police commissioner, who was elected in 2020 and is finishing his first term.

Efforts to contact Staley were unavailing.

McCarthy, 61, is a nearly 25-year Port Washington resident who grew up locally in Plandome. He is a former chief of the Nassau County Police Department who retired in July 2018 after working for the department for more than 33 years and rising through the ranks.

“Working for the Police Department was just a tremendous set of experiences and I got to work with these fantastic people in these amazing areas,” McCarthy said.

He joined the Nassau County Police Department in 1985, starting as a patrol officer and an advanced emergency medical technician in the Third and SixthbPrecincts.

In 2003, McCarthy began working at the police headquarters in the Chief of Support Office serving as the departmental safety officer.

McCarthy then made sargeant in 2004, becoming the admin supervisor for the Support Division.

“So I always say it took me 19 years to be an overnight success,” McCarthy said.

In this position, McCarthy said he would oversee facilities, employees, IT, records management and court paperwork – which he called the “behind-the-scenes stuff.”

From there McCarthy moved to the Personnel and Accounting Bureau where he began working on  the finances of the department. He worked as the payroll and HR supervisor, later moving to deputy commanding officer of the bureau when he became a lieutenant in 2006.

While working in the Personnel and Accounting Bureau, McCarthy said he would help in drafting the department’s budget and later present it to the Nassau County Legislature for approval.

McCarthy continued to move up the ranks of the Nassau County Police Department, becoming captain and deputy commanding officer of the Third Precinct in 2009, deputy inspector just five weeks later, inspector in 2012, deputy chief in 2015 and finally ending as chief of support services in 2017.

“I liked every job, I liked some of those more than others,” McCarthy jokingly said. “I never had a bad job in the Police Department. There was something to be taken away and to be learned and to grow from every post I ever had.”

McCarthy said that his time in the police force has given him a diversity of experiences, from his time as a patrol officer to the business and administrative skills developed while in his higher-ranking posts.

He said he has three strengths he would bring as police commissioner: championing community engagement, team building and identifying police force talent.

McCarthy said the key to the Port Washington police commissioner’s role is community engagement due to the communal dynamics of the area.

“It is such an amazing place,” McCarthy said, listing the local institutions that focus on the betterment of the community. “And there’s so much involvement in the community. People in Port Washington don’t sit back and let other people do the work – they are doing the work. So underpinning all of that is security and safety.”

What goes in tandem with working with the community is how police officers treat the community members they interact with when responding to calls for assistance.

McCarthy said that while he was overseeing hundreds of police officers in the county police force, he would push his officers to realize the importance of their work in serving the people every day.

He said it’s common for police officers to begin their career with a sense of wonder toward the work they do and the stories they encounter.

“A lot of what cops do on a routine day-to-day basis are things that people would talk about for the rest of their lives,” McCarthy said.

But after years of being in the job, he said “the extraordinary becomes mundane.”

“After about a year, or two or five people start to ask what did you do today and you just go ‘nothing,’” McCarthy said.

But what he said he instilled in his officers is that everything they do every day is important in their service to the people they assist.

“You may have done it 1,000 times or 3,000 times, but it’s probably the only time that those members of the public are ever going to interact with law enforcement,” McCarthy said. “And it is incumbent upon you to make it great for them every time, or at least a little bit more palatable.”

McCarthy said that much of the time law enforcement is a “customer-service job” serving the people they protect.

“You want people to appreciate what you’re doing for them and you want people to feel appreciated when you interact with them as a member of the law enforcement community,” McCarthy said. “I want the community to feel like they’re well-served, and I want the community to feel like they’re heard.”

McCarthy said he sees no shortcomings in the Port Washington Police Department, but that like any institution there are things that can be improved upon.

One issue that many police departments are experiencing nationally, McCarthy said, is how they respond to calls that concern mental health.

He said many times law enforcement must address mental health issues due to deficiencies in the provision for mental health services. While he advocated for better treatment for mental health, saying that police addressing the issue can be expensive, oppressive and punitive when it should not be, he said this is a reality of the system.

McCarthy said Port Washington does have great healthcare providers for mental health and social outreach to aid in addressing the issue and the role of the police should be helping individuals seek out the help that they need.

McCarthy said he was inspired to run for Port police commissioner because he believes he can also be an asset to the department’s current ventures.

This includes their most recent proposal for a new headquarters, which McCarthy said his former administrative experience would aid in.

McCarthy has been endorsed by former North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who she worked with while he was in the Nassau County Police Department and she served as the District 10 County Legislator and town supervisor.

“I, along with our residents, could always depend on Sean to be responsive, professional, transparent, and someone who cared deeply about the safety and well-being of all,” Bosworth said in her endorsement. “What an extraordinary opportunity for Port Washington to have Sean McCarthy as its Police District commissioner.”

McCarthy said his skillset is diverse and he is capable of balancing the needs and wants of the department’s stakeholders.

He encouraged people to vote, touting the many different aspects of his law enforcement experience.

“I hope they give me the opportunity to serve them,” McCarthy said. “I would be grateful for the chance to do that.”

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  1. Excited to be able to cast a vote for our friend and neighbor Sean McCarthy who brings so much experience, wisdom, and generosity to everything he does. Can’t wait to see him in this role!

  2. These 3 commissioners each get paid at least 250,000 per yr from our property taxes. So yeah, I’m so sure he would be grateful to serve in this role! Port Washington police department does not have a sex crimes division meaning single women in particular are not safe living here. Officers do not know how to respond to these cases and so they pass them off to Nassau county police to handle, who just shelves rape kits for yrs without testing them, which denies justice to victims of rape and sexual assault who have the misfortune of living here. Instead of 3 overpaid commissioners, TONH needs to use 2/3 of that tax money to retrain and hire more police officers in order to create more crime fighting divisions within the department. 3 police commissioners for a 10 mile town that has 6 registered sex offenders does not make the civilians any safer. A sex crimes division would!

    • Lets start with some facts:
      First- the salary for a Commissioner in PW is approx 18,000 (not $250,000). I’d like to know where you are getting your information from.
      Second- The PWPD’s Uniform and Detective personnel work TOGETHER with the County PD’s specialized investigative units, to deter, arrest, and prosecute sex crimes. Those additional resources are available and used collaboratively not just by our PWPD but by all the Village Police Departments as well.
      Lastly the TONH does not have responsibility for hiring, training or structuring police resources. Thx.


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