The Southampton Kiwanis Club’s 42nd Annual East End Police Awards ceremony was held Friday at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue. The event honored each department’s “Officer of the Year,” as chosen by the department.
NEW YORK STATE POLICE
Investigator Steven Collins, a 19-year member of the department stationed in Riverside, was awarded for his role in arresting two suspects in separate rape cases, both as they were planning to leave the area, according to Lt. William Hulse. In one case, a 16-year-old man had raped a 15-year-old girl whom he had met on Facebook and Inv. Collins and Investigator Michael Stephens arrested him on Fishers Island as he was planning to flee.
The second case involved a 15-year-old girl who was raped by a 27-year-old man, whom Inv. Collins also arrested, with his passport and plane ticket in his pocket, according to Lt. Hulse.
Southampton Town picked two award recipients, one of whom, Officer Eric Sickles, was also chosen by the Southampton Kiwanis Club as the overall officer of the year on the East End. Officer Sickles, who could not be present at the ceremony because he works undercover, is a nine-year member of the town Street Crime Unit and has made more than 1,000 drug purchases as an undercover officer, Chief William Wilson said.
“With undercover work every time you make a drug buy, you’re putting yourself at extreme risk,” Chief Wilson said.
The other recipient, Officer J.C. Cavanagh, responded to a disturbance in Flanders on Aug. 29 in which a man was holding his brother at knife point, Chief Wilson said. Officer Cavanagh talked the man into dropping the knife, but as he and Officer Bryan Cobb approached him, the man pulled out a hatchet he had hidden in a couch cushion and attempted to swing it at Officer Cobb, the chief said. Officer Cavanagh, who the chief said would have been justified in using more force than he did, took the suspect to the ground and he and Officer Cobb arrested him, according to the chief.
Court Officer Douglas Gentile, a 7-year court officer stationed in the court in Riverside, saw a man snatch a woman’s purse in the plaza at the court house and run, according to Chief Thomas Honey. Officer Gentile took off after the man and quickly caught him, the chief said.
“I’ve never seen an officer run so fast in my life,” he said.
The incident was also captured on surveillance cameras, he said.
Officer Gentile is also an emergency medical technician who has responded to more than 100 aided calls in the courts, Chief Honey said.
SUFFOLK COUNTY SHERIFFS
Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Michael Smith was involved in a high-speed chase on the Long Island Expressway on Sept. 4, 2011, in which the suspect’s car broke down after a long chase, according to Captain Dympna Vernon of the Domestic Violence Bureau. The suspect got out of the car and had a shotgun, she said, but Sgt. Smith was able to convince him to drop it. The suspect then refused to get on the ground and was tasered and arrested by Sgt. Smith, the captain said. Afterward, it was discovered that the suspect had a number of loaded weapons in the car, and he allegedly said he intended to shoot Sgt. Smith, but couldn’t because he left the safety gauge on the shotgun, Captain Vernon said. The suspect also said he wanted Sgt. Smith to shoot him, she said.
SUFFOLK CORRECTIONS OFFICERS
Investigator Steven Lundquist, a 19-year veteran of the department, is the commanding officer of the Sheriff’s Gang Intelligence Unit, which has evolved from a largely in-house operation to a major clearing house of gang-related information for numerous law enforcement agencies, according to Chief Michael Sharkey.
The unit now has a gang database that tracks more than 3,300 members from 125 different gangs and has an extensive photographic library of gang tattoos, signs and graffiti, Chief Sharkey said.
He said Investigator Lundquist, vice president of the East Coast Gang Investigators Association, has been able to glean information from sources that have led to numerous arrests.