The Riverhead Police Department’s latest addition started at a fundraiser for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota two years ago.
Riverhead police officer Charles Cichanowicz was in charge of patrolling Iron Pier Beach, but was frustrated by having to drive back to police headquarters to pick up the department’s all-terrain vehicle when it was needed. He pitched an idea to Mr. Spota: use money seized from criminals in police raids to help the police department buy new ATVs and sheds to store them.
This summer, the county delivered. Riverhead police have been using the new ATV — worth about $6,000 — since June and it has already had a noticeable impact on how well the police can patrol the beaches and assist those in need, said Supervisor Sean Walter.
“We do beach patrols during the summertime so we’re really happy the DA provided us the money for the two sheds,” Mr. Walter said in an interview last week. “It’s very helpful because it increases the protection on the beach. We used to get a lot of complaints.”
Police officer and Police Benevolent Association vice president Christopher Parkin said the shed and new ATV allows police officers to respond to emergencies on the beach faster. It used to take police about 20 minutes to return to base, pick up the ATVs using a trailer and return to the scene on the beach, town officials said. Now, police can respond in minutes.
“These are live-saving instruments,” Mr. Parkin said. “That time can be the difference between life and death.”
The two new sheds purchased using the asset forfeiture funds have been installed at Wading River and Iron Pier beaches.
Mr. Spota, who was at Iron Pier beach Tuesday with the Town Board and police officials, said he would expedite a request to get Riverhead police a second, new ATV. The police plan to then donate one of their older vehicles to the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.