Riverhead police chief gets a 8.5% pay raise

Riverhead Chief of Police David Hegermiller got a new contract — and an 8.5% pay raise — when the Town Board last week unanimously approved a compensation package with the veteran law enforcement official that runs until the end of 2024.

Chief Hegermiller, who has been working without a contract since 2022, saw his base salary increase to $225,637 from $207,673, which includes a retroactive 6% raise for 2023 and an additional 2.5% raise for 2024, according to a copy of the contract. As in 2022, Mr. Hegermiller is the highest-paid employee of the Town of Riverhead, officials said. 

Five new officers were recently hired as part of the town’s 2024 budget, bringing the number of new officers added to the department in the past year and a half to 12, Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in an interview Tuesday. Riverhead police officers also received a 6% pay bump in 2023 and a 2.5% raise for 2024 in their new contract.

Chief Hegermiller, 65, will also receive a longevity bonus of 16% of his salary for serving in the department for 40 years. He was hired as a police officer in 1981 and reached his 40-year mark in 2021. As the town’s designated Federal Emergency Management Agency representative, he also receives an annual stipend of $6,000. He did not respond to News-Review requests for comment on the new deal. 

The contract requires the chief to submit a town safety plan and determine the viability of creating a police substation for the downtown area.

Ms. Aguiar said that she had earlier approached Town Board members about considering the creation a downtown substation. The department currently operates out of a building on Howell Avenue.

Police “substations do work,” she said. “We’re not talking about just having police standing there holding their guns. We’re talking about community-friendly.”

The supervisor said that the safety plan and recommendations on a downtown substation must be completed by June 2024.

“If you lose your kid, lose your dog, you can come in” to the downtown station being considered, she said. “Just the presence of that office [would be] highly effective against quality of life crimes. You want to make it community policing, where they are walking around, and the officer is watching a concert with the people.”