The Riverhead Police Benevolent Association named Riverhead native Sean Mackie its Cop of the Year Saturday night, honoring him at its annual installation dinner at the Suffolk Theater.
Last March, the six-year veteran of the Riverhead force had noticed police reports frequently pointing to personal thefts, mostly out of cars. Some came out of sheds.
Then one night, he saw who he thought were the suspects riding bicycles near the Route 58 traffic circle.
Mr. Mackie recalled pulling up next to them. They “took off,” he said, and he eventually caught up to one of them near the corner of Roanoke Avenue and Middle Road.
“I told him, ‘We know what’s up. You better knock it off,’” Mr. Mackie said. Having nothing to charge him with at the time, he let him go.
Not long after that, Mr. Mackie was sitting in the former Walmart parking lot on Route 58. With all the stores in the shopping center closed that time of night, he thought it was strange to see a car pulling out of the lot. On a hunch, he followed it.
Eventually, the driver was pulled over for vehicle and traffic violations; she was later arrested for driving with a suspended license. And in plain view, Mr. Mackie said, “I saw two large duffle bags in the back seat.”
In one of the reports Mr. Mackie had read, a Pentax camera was reported stolen. A Pentax camera strap was hanging out of one of the bags.
After getting permission to search the car, “thousands of dollars worth of belongings” were eventually found.
Three people were eventually charged and convicted. Jason C. Scott pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny and was released in October. Marquis Nolan pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny and remains in custody. The driver of the car, Katrina Bennett, pleaded guilty to a violation of unlicensed operation.
Mr. Mackie’s work didn’t go unnoticed by the brass.
“I was very happy that the PBA thought of Sean,” said Chief David Hegermiller. “He did an outstanding job handling those thefts and burglaries.”