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Riverhead Police Department to lose three more longtime officers to retirement

The Riverhead Police Department will be facing three more retirements, including a lieutenant, in early January.

That brings the department to eight retirees in 2021, following eight in 2020, according to Police Chief David Hegermiller.

The police department in 2021 also hired 19 new officers. 

“That’s an unusually high number,” the chief said. “I would say it’s definitely a record for number of hirees in one year.”

He said the number of retirees also is a record and said there have been “many factors.”

“Covid compounded it, and we have to wait long time for the county’s police academy,” Chief Hegermiller said. 

New police officers must graduate from the Suffolk County Police Academy before they can start. 

Lt. Sean Egan and police officers Doug Gerace and Glenn Erick will be retiring in early January. There were resolutions on the Town Board’s Tuesday agenda accepting those retirements. Mr. Erick is the longest serving officer among the latest round of retirees with 32 years experience. Mr. Gerace has close to 29 years experience and Lt. Egan has 30 years with the department.

Since the beginning of 2021, all four of the lieutenants the town started the year with will have retired. Three of them have been replaced and the town will need to promote someone to the lieutenant position.

Asked if he thought the anti-police sentiment that followed George Floyd’s murder in Minnesota in 2020 played a role in the retirements, the chief said, “I would say it probably had to, not that any of the retirees have told me that. But I’m sure that weighed into their decision.”

The town police department currently has 90 officers, including the three who are set to retire. It is budgeted to have 88 officers, according to chief.