Editorial: They’re called heroes for a reason

Each year for nearly the past half-century, the Kiwanis Club of Southampton has honored police officers with its Officer of the Year awards. Originally, the club recognized only Southampton police officers, but later expanded the event to include all East End departments.

This year’s ceremony was held Friday at the Sea Star Ballroom in Riverhead. And for the second time in two years, Southold Police Officer John Crosser received his department’s Officer of the Year award for his role in a water rescue. Two Riverhead Town officers earned the honors for the Sept. 19 rescue of a man floating face down in the waters off Grangebel Park.

Mr. Crosser’s award acknowledges his role in an incident that occurred early in the evening Aug. 28. “Our dispatch center received a 911 call reporting an injured paddleboarder in Peconic Bay, about 100 yards from the shore off Nassau Point in Cutchogue,” Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said at the event.

“A 63-year-old female had fallen from her stand-up paddleboard and became impaled on a mooring anchor that was partially submerged in the water,” he said. “The victim was injured by the top portion of the anchor that was made of approximately two-inch steel, impaling the upper thigh of her leg.”

Mr. Crosser was the first to arrive at the scene, followed by Cutchogue firefighters. He found the victim holding on for dear life to her board as she floated in four feet of water. Jumping into action, he removed his shirt and shoes, secured his duty belt and went to her rescue. He remained with her while firefighters used heavy rescue tools to free her from the anchor.

A nine-year veteran of the Southold police department, Mr. Crosser won the same award in January 2017 for his role in another water rescue. His two awards demonstrate Mr. Crosser’s commitment to serving as a town policeman. We are grateful for that.

Riverhead’s Officer of the Year award went to town Officer Richard Freeborn and state Trooper Michael Masino for their combined efforts Sept. 19 to pull a man from the water and successfully resuscitate him. The two arrived at the scene and located the 44-year-old victim, who was unresponsive. They performed CPR and were able to restore a pulse for the victim, who began to breathe on his own. The two saved this man’s life.

All of this year’s winners deserve their awards — and our gratitude.

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