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Top Stories 2016: $340K donation helps police department

Southold Town Police Department

In August, a defendant in Southold Town Justice Court fought with police and court officers in the town hall meeting room. The man was restrained, but an officer was injured during the scuffle and, according to the local police union, a radio call for help was never received.

That’s because of “dead zones” around Southold Town, areas where the police department’s antiquated radio system drops out and officers are unable to communicate with headquarters, police officials said.

The fight in the courtroom focused attention on the concerns of town police department officers, about 20 of whom turned out at a Town Hall meeting to urge the Town Board to upgrade their radio equipment. The Southold Police Benevolent Association argued that the communications system was a “critical” problem that poses a danger to the officers.

The Town Board promised to fund whatever upgrades were necessary to protect the officers.

But the town didn’t need to use as much money as it might have, thanks in part to generous support from a local businessman. Southold and Greenport IGA owner Charles Reichert, 81, of Northport donated $340,000 to the town to fund the upgrades.

In an interview after the donation, Mr. Reichert — who stressed that the town had not asked for the funds — said he felt it was important to “give back” to the community that has supported him and his businesses for years.

His money is set to be spent on upgrades to the police department’s radio room starting in January, with the town footing the bill for improvements to radio towers across town.

File photo: Southold Town Police Department.