Lori Hulse is sometimes a smidge ahead of her twin brother, Bill.
Lori decided to pursue a career in criminal justice just before Bill did. In December, Bill was named head of the New York State Police barracks in Riverside — one month after Lori became the first woman in more than 85 years elected to serve on the bench in Riverhead Town Justice Court.
Judge Hulse is also 10 minutes older than Capt. Hulse.
“It was a point of contention up until we were about 25 years old,” Capt. Hulse recalled fondly during an interview at his new office last week. “Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t such a big deal.”
The twins, now 49, grew up at Hulse Farms on Hulse Landing Road, where eight generations of their family had grown potatoes. They are the first in their clan to go into law enforcement.
And while they didn’t know they’d both end up there, the siblings believe their upbringing played a major role in their career choices.
“Being a twin,” Judge Hulse explained, “everything was fair — 50/50. And if Billy got something that I wanted, he shared.”
While growing up, Capt. Hulse said he always thought he would become a farmer and take over from his parents, William Sr. and Marion. But when he was in high school, his father urged him to pursue a different path.
“It’s very tough, costly, and he convinced me to try other avenues,” Capt. Hulse said.
His sister echoed those sentiments.
“‘Don’t settle’ is something we heard all the time,” she said.
Eventually, the twins’ parents stopped farming and sold the land, which is currently occupied by houses and the Davis Peach Farm. Although the family farm is now just a memory, the experience of growing up there instilled a strong work ethic and sense of self-discipline in the twins.
“If you’re the child of a farmer, you were working,” Capt. Hulse said. “Football I couldn’t do because it was digging season. Baseball was plant season. But I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
After their father-son discussion about forgoing farming, Capt. Hulse studied accounting in college. He later decided he didn’t want to become an accountant and looked into joining the FBI.
That career choice didn’t pan out, however. After college, Capt. Hulse was told he wasn’t qualified for an agency job because he didn’t have enough life experience. The FBI agent who interviewed him, a former police officer, suggested he gain experience by working as a cop before applying again.
After working as a seasonal police officer in Southampton Village and Riverhead Town, Capt. Hulse moved to the state police barracks in Valley Stream. He worked there until his promotion to captain in 2013.
Capt. Hulse said he’s excited about his new role as commander of the local state police station and looks forward to establishing relationships within the community.
His recent appointment came amid rumors that the Riverside police barracks would close its doors to the public. While the dispatcher positions at the barracks have been eliminated, the building will be open to the public when officers are inside. The unit is also receiving more troopers for patrolling.
“My number one goal is community involvement because we need to get the community to assist us,” Capt. Hulse said.
Judge Hulse, meanwhile, was inaugurated New Year’s Day. Technically, she is the first female town justice in Riverhead Town. The only other woman appointed to the bench, Syrena Stackpole, was an elected Town Board member who also served as a justice of the peace. When she was elected in 1931, the two positions were combined; there was no Town Justice position at the time.
Judge Hulse’s desire to work inside a courtroom began to grow when she was in junior high school.
“I took a guidance test and [attorney] was one of the suggested careers,” she said. “There were no attorneys in my family. I told a couple of people what I wanted to do and the response was, ‘Come on. Be serious.’ At that time, it was a little unusual for a girl to think she’s going to be a lawyer.”
After college, Judge Hulse worked in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, where she was promoted to senior trial attorney. She was also deputy chief of the major crimes bureau within the Suffolk District Attorney’s office. Most recently, she worked as deputy town attorney for Southold Town.
The twins graduated from Riverhead High School in 1985 and always had lockers next to each other, although one of them was apparently more memorable than the other.
“I cannot tell you how many people remember my sister and don’t remember me,” said Capt. Hulse, who has no hard feelings about the matter. “I’ve wondered to myself, ‘Where was I during high school?’ ”
His sister attributes it to having different personalities.
“I’m more of a talker and outgoing,” she said. “Billy is obviously very well-liked but he’s more easygoing and quiet and took more of a laid-back approach. We were always friends.”
“You know you always have a friend,” Capt. Hulse said of being a twin. “You’re not alone because …”
“… you always have someone at your back,” the judge chimed in.
Although they have related careers and work in the same area, the twins don’t expect their professional paths to cross. Capt. Hulse said his role doesn’t include making arrests, so he won’t ever need to appear before his sister on a case.
The siblings supported each other’s decision to pursue law enforcement instead of farming and are proud of their recent accomplishments.
“We’re both proud to serve the Riverhead community because this is our home,” Judge Hulse said. “The more work you put in, the better the results you’re going to get. Where we’re sitting right now is the greatest feeling in the world.”
Top photo: Capt. Bill Hulse and Judge Lori Hulse outside the state police barracks in Riverside. The twins recently had back-to-back achievements in their professional lives. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
Center photo: Bill and Lori Hulse wait to receive their diplomas at Riverhead High School’s graduation in 1985. (Credit: Glenn Jochum file photo/News-Review)