East End’s top cops honored at Kiwanis Club dinner

Riverhead police officer Chris Burns is congratulated by Supervisor Sean Walter. (Credit: Tim Gannon)
Riverhead police officer Chris Burns is sworn in by Supervisor Sean Walter in 2012. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

Riverhead Police Officer Christopher Burns already had his department’s “officer of the year” award in the bag by Dec. 29, according to Police Chief David Hegermiller, who makes the choice.

But on the night of Dec. 29, Mr. Burns added the icing to the cake when he helped rescue a man who had fallen into the icy waters of the Peconic River. 

Mr. Burns, who has been on the force for about two years, was presented with the department’s Officer of the Year award Jan. 23 at the Southampton Kiwanis Club’s annual East End Police Awards dinner at the Sea Star Ballroom in the Hyatt Place East End.

Mr. Burns, who had been a town lifeguard in 2007, also worked for the town police as an intern while he studied criminal justice at Suffolk County Community College. He worked as a SUNY police officer before joining the town force in December 2012, Chief Hegermiller said.

It was his work in thwarting a burglary in progress on Dec. 10 that netted him the officer of the year honors, according to Chief Hegermiller.

“Officer Burns thwarted a burglary in progress in Millbrook Gables and he arrested three people for burglarizing a house there. They were trying to remove copper from the home,” the chief said. “It was a great job by Chris.”

In the Dec. 29 incident, Mr. Burns was one five town officers who participated in the rescue of a Medford man who had fallen into the Peconic River.

That rescue was initiated after three local teens — Christopher Lull, 19, and Tyrek Highsmith, 18, both of Riverhead, and Isabella “Izzy” DiPierro, 16, of Wading River — heard the man calling for help and tried to pull him out themselves before calling police.

Mr. Burns, fellow officers Daniel Walther, Michael Lojko and Anthony Montalbano and part-time officer Luigi Luigini then arrived on the scene and formed a “human ladder” to pull the man out, the chief said.