As his final shift neared its end last Wednesday afternoon, Detective Ned Grathwohl felt excited. He wasn’t nervous, he said, as he prepared to leave Southold Police Department headquarters for the final time.
Then it hit him.
“I walked outside and saw all my co-workers and the press and a drone flying and Mr. Softee,” he said. “It was kind of surreal and it kind of hit me at that point. I didn’t expect to feel the emotions I did when I walked out and saw everybody.”
Fellow police officers, friends and family members had gathered outside to greet Mr. Grathwohl for the ceremonial “walk-out,” sending him off into retirement after a 34-year career.
The 55-year-old detective began his career with the Southold department in January 1984, working part-time during the summers of 1984 and 1985 as a seasonal officer. He was hired full-time in April 1986 and served as a patrol officer for 12 years before his promotion to detective in May 1998.
“Det. Grathwohl has always been an asset both to this department and the town as a whole,” Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said in an email. “Ned has served our department with distinction for over 32 years in his various roles and has always performed above and beyond what was asked of him. His personality lends itself to developing numerous relationships, both with other law enforcement officers and members of the community he serves. Ned was always capable of working with any other officer on just about any case. He will be missed by our department.”
Mr. Grathwohl, who grew up in Cutchogue and now lives in Mattituck with his wife and two children, said he’d originally planned an earlier retirement, but when the time came he realized he wasn’t quite ready to leave.
So he stayed on a little longer. That allowed him to continue his tradition of presenting PBA scholarships to local students, which he recently did for the 20th time.
His younger child, Macie, just graduated from high school land will head to the University of Alabama for college. His older child, Skyler, attends Norwich University in Vermont and he plans to spend his free time with his family, visiting his daughters at college.
And while he’s excited for more family time and free weekends, Mr. Grathwohl said he’ll miss the detective work.
He said some of his favorite parts of the job were the advancements in technology that changed over the years, opening new doors for detectives and allowing them to solve cases in new ways.
“It helped out with cases, with security systems,” he said. “There’s a bunch of cases I remember solving through DNA, whether it was a discarded cigarette or blood at a scene … No particular case [stands out], but certainly when you have a case that has some evidence the technologies made it more interesting and solvable.”
He said becoming a policeman has been a lifelong dream, and working in his hometown department made it even better.
“I enjoyed the detective work the most, but besides actually solving cases, I enjoyed working with the people,” Mr. Grathwohl said. “I grew up here and was able to work in this town — I cannot say enough about how honored and pleased I was to do this.”
Photo caption: Detective Ned Grathwohl shakes the hands of his fellow officers. (Nicole Smith photo)