By the time the 1970's arrived, the nation had changed. Illegal drug use was on the rise throughout the country and
had become a focus of national attention. Our cities had grown more violent and crime statistics were trending
further upward at a seemingly unstoppable rate. On November 27th, 1976, Joan Limini and Donna DiMasi were
shot and injured by "Son of Sam" serial killer David Berkowitz as they were sitting in a car in Floral Park, Queens.
The reality of the era was hitting close to home. Floral Park, though sustaining its reputation as a safe and secure
community, was nonetheless stressed by these events, and was hardly immune to the symptoms of these changing
By 1976, activity continued to rise. Officers responded to 5,503 calls for service, of these, there were 396 major
crimes, including 131 larcenies, 21 auto thefts, 68 burglaries, and 12 robberies, reported to the Floral Park Police
Department. There were about 300 arrests made, of which 79 were for major offenses. The department
responded to 224 motor vehicle accidents (38 of which required emergency aid, with no fatalities). Officers issued
2,121 summonses for violations of traffic law.
To help combat these growing problems, the department added a meter-attendant in order to free an officer from
this duty and strengthen the patrol force. A decision, however, was made to disband the motorcycle unit and these
vehicles that had served the department well for many years, were taken out of service. In response to an increase
in complaints regarding youth and a proportionate rise in malicious damage, a part-time youth officer was
designated in 1976.
In October, 1976, Chief George Wagner was succeeded by Chief Gerard Hance, who was promoted from the
rank of captain. Following the recommendations of a December 1976 report prepared for the department by the
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, several changes were instituted. Previously a lieutenant or
captain (with a full staff of 5 such superior officers) was assigned on the desk to handle dispatch duties while acting
as shift commander on every tour. When a lieutenant was not working, the shift sergeant would take over the desk
duty. It was recommended that dispatching duties by handled by civilian dispatchers thereby freeing the more
highly skilled, sworn officers for police duties. It was also recommended that the department recognize "line"
(operational) and "staff" (administrative) functions of policing and, now having two men at this rank sharing the
position, a lieutenant be placed in charge of each of these tasks. These changes were instituted, and the first police
dispatchers were hired in 1977.
Chief Hance, who was appointed as Chief of the Easton Police Department in Connecticut after leaving the Floral
Park Police Department, was succeeded by Chief Edward McCarthy in August of 1978.