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Top Stories 2016: Southold’s top DWI cop fired, sues town

Garrett Lake

In May, a little over two weeks after Southold Town police officer Garrett Lake was honored with a proclamation for making the department’s largest number of drunken-driving arrests in 2015, his employment was terminated.

Mr. Lake was let go four days before his probationary period as a police officer was due to end.

During this time, officers can be laid off without their employer having to prove just cause for the termination, according to the state attorney general’s office. One month following Mr. Lake’s termination, which was unanimously approved during a special meeting of the Southold Town Board, he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the town.

In the suit, Mr. Lake claimed his firing was the result of political pressure on the Town Board from an unnamed Jamesport fire commissioner and the town Republican Party’s vice chairman in relation to “high-profile arrests” he made during his tenure as a cop.

These arrests include Steven Romeo of Peconic, who was involved in last summer’s fatal limousine crash in Cutchogue, and Jamesport Fire Department assistant chief David McKillop, who was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving in February.

Supervisor Scott Russell called the claims “baseless,” saying Mr. Lake was fired “solely for job performance.”