Featured Story
04/14/16 9:00am
04/14/2016 9:00 AM

Riverside traffic circle

After years of feeling like they’ve been ignored, homeowners in the Riverside and Flanders area are “thrilled” to see more cops on patrol.


Featured Story
12/10/15 6:00am
12/10/2015 6:00 AM

Riverhead Cops police Headquarters

Following a trend within Suffolk County, Riverhead’s town police are generally paid about 30 percent more than the state average for town police, according to data released this week by Albany think tank The Empire Center.


11/26/14 3:39pm
Police Chief David Hegermiller says he would hope this part of the country is 'ahead of the curve' on race relations between police and minority communities. (Credit: file)

Chief David Hegermiller says he hopes this part of the country is ahead on race relations between police and minority communities. (Credit: file)

In the wake of riots that erupted in Ferguson, Mo. this week after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot and killed a black teenager, Michael Brown, local police chiefs offered their take on the case — and longstanding racial tensions nationwide between police departments and minority communities.

Peaceful protests were also being held at cities across the U.S., though none in this area. (more…)

11/15/14 12:25pm
11/15/2014 12:25 PM
A shooting 'victim' is escorted from Riley Avenue Elementary School during Saturday morning's active shooter drill. (Credit: Michael White)

A shooting ‘victim’ is escorted from Riley Avenue Elementary School during Saturday morning’s active shooter drill. (Credit: Michael White)

David Wicks said he couldn’t help but get a bit emotional during Saturday’s active shooter drill in Calverton, where police and ambulance workers simulated a mass shooting inside Riley Avenue Elementary School.

About 70 high school students and other volunteers also participated in the drill, during which two people were “killed,” and several others were dragged from the school or carried out, fake-bloodied and bandaged.

A Suffolk police helicopter also landed in a nearby field.

“It was very real for me; I had chills,” said Mr. Wicks, a Riverhead School District assistant superintendent. “I felt myself getting emotional. The real sobering thing is how much time can pass before help gets here.

“But it made me feel good because our lockdown procedures do help.”

(More photos below) (more…)

07/10/14 4:54pm
07/10/2014 4:54 PM
Kenneth Belcher's mug shot (Credit: Riverhead Police Department)

Kenneth Belcher’s mug shot (Credit: Riverhead Police Department)

Following a news report earlier Thursday, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller confirmed Friday that a 46-year-old Riverhead man accused of beating and robbing a man early Monday is a “possible suspect” in a string of other assaults and robberies in the area. (more…)

05/12/13 7:00am
05/12/2013 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Field Day stage days before the planned event in Calverton.

Five months after Riverhead Town voted to pay $1 million to settle its end of the nine-year-old Field Day lawsuit, a jury has ruled in favor of the remaining defendants in the case.

Court officials said there is currently no order requiring the Field Day concert promoters to pay legal fees to Suffolk County and New York State and that the jury on May 1 simply ruled against Field Day and in favor of the municipalities.

The promoters had sought more than $30 million in damages from the various municipalities that declined to approve the proposed 2003 rock festival in Calverton.

Riverhead Town and its police chief, David Hegermiller, were removed as defendants in the case in December after the town agreed to pay Field Day $1 million as a settlement to end its involvement in the case.

“We didn’t pay the full $1 million,” Supervisor Sean Walter said Friday. “We paid $250,000 and our insurance company paid the rest.”

He said with legal fees going at about $25,000 per week for outside counsel, the town probably would have spent close to $250,000 had it not settled.

Field Day LLC and AEG Live LLC filed the lawsuit in May 2004 against Suffolk County, Riverhead Town, New York State and numerous officials and departments within those municipalities after a proposed three-day music festival at the Enterprise Park at Calverton slated for June 17, 2003 did not receive the necessary approvals.

Field Day, which would have featured popular artists like Radiohead, the Beastie Boys and Beck, never took place at EPCAL because the county refused to provide police protection and the town said it didn’t have enough police officers of its own, which resulted in the county health department denying Field Day a mass gathering permit.

It eventually was moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey as a one-day event on short notice, but had poor attendance due to heavy rains that day.

Town officials never officially approved nor denied the music festival, but instead held a press conference a few days before the concert was scheduled to start and announced that they would not issue the permit.

The lawsuit named Riverhead Town as a defendant and town police chief Chief Hegermiller personally, claiming his request for 150 more officers from the Suffolk County police department was not based on any standards or requirements found in the New York Mass Gatherings Laws.

While the town was removed as a defendant, several town officials still were called to testify in the eight week trial, which began on March 20 and ended on May 1. Among those called to testify were Chief Hegermiller, former Supervisor and current Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, and former town attorney Dawn Thomas. Former town councilman Chris Kent also testified, although Mr. Kent was not in office at the time Field Day was proposed and was representing the concert promoters as a private attorney at the time.

Field Day was one of two large music festivals proposed for EPCAL that summer. The other, Bonnaroo Northeast, also featured big name acts, but it canceled after Field Day failed to gain approvals.

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05/02/13 8:00am
05/02/2013 8:00 AM

After years of weaving through traffic lights on Route 58 on their way to emergencies, Riverhead ambulance volunteers are no longer seeing red.

For the past year, along Riverhead Town’s busiest road, a new system that changes red lights to green as ambulances approach has helped first responders get to alarms faster.

The Opticom system used by the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps employs GPS and radio signals to communicate between ambulances and antennas attached to traffic lights along Route 58, said ambulance chief Joseph Oliver.

As an ambulance approaches a traffic light, the system triggers any red lights along the ambulance’s route to switch to green, Mr. Oliver said. The GPS also registers how fast the ambulance is traveling and whether it’s turning, he said.

The new system has cut down on the ambulance corps’ response times since it was installed in early 2012 and has made it safer for ambulances to respond to calls.

“If we get in an accident, it doesn’t matter how serious the emergency, we’re not going,” Mr. Oliver said.

The antennas are attached to the traffic signals from Tanger Outlets to Ostrander Avenue, he said. Any new lights built on the road will have the system.

The Opticom system is designed to give cars in the opposite lanes a yellow then red light, with enough time for them to stop and let the ambulance through, he said. The corps now has Opticom installed in all its ambulances and fi rst responder vehicles. It paid for two of the transmitters — which cost roughly $2,000 a piece — but the other seven were donated.

Brookhaven Town fire departments and ambulance crews are switching over to the system thanks to grant funding, Mr. Oliver said.

Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller said the department could benefit from a light-preemption system. Funding has been the biggest hurdle, as the police department would need far more transmitters than the ambulance corps.

“It would be great to have, but currently it is unfunded,” Chief Hegermiller said.

The system doesn’t mean ambulance drivers can be careless, though. The drivers still slow down as they approach a light in case any other cars are running the red light in the other direction, Mr. Oliver said, a problem that occurs far too often to his liking.

He said volunteers see drivers running the red lights “every day, just because people aren’t paying attention. Always pay attention because it could change really quickly.”

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