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After 35-year career, Riverhead Detective Dixon Palmer says farewell

Cars lined up around the block Wednesday afternoon and the parking lot of the Riverhead Police Department was filled with active and retired police officers from departments across the county.

The occasion? The retirement “walkout” ceremony of Riverhead Detective Dixon Palmer after 35 years, many of which he also was the president of the Riverhead Police Benevolent Association.

“He’s got police in his blood, and he always had it,” said Officer Dennis Cavanaugh, who gave a speech at the ceremony.

In addition to his own time in the police department, Dixon’s brother Tim is a sergeant in Riverhead and has been an officer for 33 years; his brother Roscoe retired from Suffolk County Police after just over 28 years; his son Dylan is in the New York State Police, and his late father, Roscoe, was the Riverhead police chief from 1976 to 1987.

The retirement ceremony saw police officers lined up along the steps of the police department so that Det. Palmer could great them all has he walked down the stairs. This was preceded by a county police helicopter flyover and a performance from the Eastern Long Island Police Pipes and Drums.

“On behalf of the town and the department, I want to thank you for your 33-plus years of service, and your commitment and dedication to law-enforcement statewide,” Police Chief David Hegermiller said. “And most of all, Dixon, for helping Riverhead P.D. because what it is today. We all wish you a very happy retirement.”

Det. Palmer’s own speech was brief: “Too cold to talk,” he said.

Riverhead Detective Dixon Palmer is congratulated by fellow officers Thursday as he leaves the department for the final time. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Det. Palmer actually started as a crossing guard in 1977, he became a part-time police officer in 1980 and a full-time officer in 1985 after attending the police academy in 1984. In 1994, he was promoted to detective.

He got involved in the PBA early in his career, Mr. Cavanaugh said.

“Back then, they were fraternal organizations. Now, they’re pretty much unions,” he said.

Mr. Cavanaugh said there are people from all over the state who will testify to the work he’s done for police over his career.

“Riverhead PBA is not on the map, unless Dixon Palmer is there,” he said.

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