It was silent outside the Mother Teresa Tribute Center in Lake Ronkonkoma, where about 150 mourners gathered last Thursday for the funeral of Suffolk County Police Detective Sergeant Robert Reecks, who died the previous weekend in a single-car crash on Sunrise Highway.
But inside, during the ceremony, the center was filled with sobs.
The Rev. Roderick Pearson asked mourners holding white and lavender roses to remember Det. Sgt. Reecks, former commander of the SCPD’s Bias Crimes Unit, for his love, honor and respect.
“I pray that we continue to fight against bias,” he said. “That we continue to fight against hate. That we continue to debate and scrutinize. That we continue to show love for one another.”
The 57-year-old, who lived in Riverhead with his wife, Rita, was a well-respected cop with 30 years in the department, which he joined in 1981. After he was replaced as commander of the Bias Crimes Unit, he continued to serve as a deputy in the unit.
Det. Sgt. Reecks was off-duty and driving eastbound on Sunrise Highway in Moriches in an unmarked department vehicle, when the vehicle veered off the roadway and struck a concrete bridge structure near Moriches-Middle Island Road about 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said he rushed to the scene of the accident as soon as he heard the news.
“I was shocked,” he said upon learning his colleague had been killed.
Det. Sgt. Reecks had reported for the last four years to Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, who called him “a dedicated professional passionate about his work.”
He said Det. Sgt. Reecks was an “opinioned man who was not afraid to take a position and defend it.”
“We appreciated his candor and his frankness, and the police department was better for it,” Chief Varrone said.
Detective James Mosby, who served in the Bias Crimes Unit under Det. Sgt. Reecks, called his supervisor an “honest cop and a good friend.”
He said Det. Sgt. Reecks’ greatest accomplishment was bridging a gap between the police department and the community.
Commissioner Dormer said those in the police department will fondly remember Det. Sgt. Reecks, and his legacy will live on.
“You don’t get used to these incidences — death in the police family,” he said. “He’s going to be missed.”