Riverhead Detective Evelyn Hobson-Womack is the latest veteran officer to retire from the Riverhead police force this year, and her co-workers saluted her 28 years with the department during a “walkout” ceremony for her Friday outside police headquarters.
“Congratulations on your retirement and good luck to you and your family,” Police Officer John Morris said. “The men and women in the Riverhead police department have very big shoes to fill.”
He said the department has lost lost more than 150 years of combined police service so far this year due to retirements.
Detective Hobson-Womack, a lifelong Riverhead resident, graduated from Riverhead High School in 1983 and spend 28 years in the police department. She also served in the Army and spent six years as an Army reservist.
In Feb. 2002 she was promoted to detective and assigned to the Juvenile Aid Bureau working with the school district in many investigations, Mr. Morris said.
Detective Hobson-Womack was the first African-American female officer in Riverhead Town and the first African-American detective.
During her career with the town, she worked in “Operation Save Our Streets,” a Task Force that resulted in 70 arrests for drug crimes, Mr. Morris said. She was instrumental in creating the “Go Girls” program, aimed at keeping Riverhead girls in school.
“The girls excelled in the program and it was a significant increase in the girls staying at school and graduating,” Mr. Morris said. Detective Hobson-Womack also worked in the Youth Court, where students learned about the criminal justice system, he said.
Detective Hobson-Womack may be retiring from the Police Department, but she may be continuing to work with the town.
She is running for a Town Council position this fall and has the backing of the Riverhead Democratic committee. Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who is running for supervisor on the same ticket at Detective Hobson-Womack, called her “a trailblazer and a force to be reckoned with.”
At one point Friday, as she began to thank her husband, Detective Hobson-Womack became choked up for a moment.
“Your mama said ‘don’t cry,” someone yelled, and Detective Hobson-Womack continued her speech.
“My mission with the Riverhead Police Department may be over but my journey here in this town isn’t,” she said.