It’s a heck of a time to be promoted to the rank of captain in the Southold Town Police Department.
Since his wife, Megan, pinned his new captain’s badge to his uniform last Tuesday before a crowd of fellow officers at Southold Town Hall, Steven Grattan has been busy. Among other duties, he developed the action plan for road closures and other security measures during Saturday’s mass casualty response training at Mattituck High School, and he’s been reviewing footage recorded throughout the first week of the department’s new body camera pilot program.
Within the past decade, Mr. Grattan was promoted to a relief sergeant within the department, then a sergeant in charge of his own squad and finally a lieutenant.
“I enjoy what I do. I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” the new captain said. “When I was younger I aspired to be a police officer. Once I got the job and started to learn about it, I saw that the avenue of supervisor was something that I wanted to pursue. It was a lot; committing the time and really hunkering down and studying for these promotional exams was a lot.”
Mr. Grattan has filled the vacancy left by former captain James Ginas, who retired last month after serving the police department for 35 years. Mr. Ginas was among the many officers in attendance to watch last week’s promotion ceremony.
“It’s well deserved and I think he’ll do really well in the position,” Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said. “In the next two weeks, we’re looking to make another lieutenant, another sergeant and another [police officer]. So we have a lot of movement up top now … [we’re] putting everything together and getting a command staff rapport before going again. But I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll do an excellent job there.”
Growing up locally and graduating from Southold High School in 1998, Capt. Grattan served as a traffic control officer in Southold for three summers, while earning an associate degree from Dean College in Franklin, Mass., and studying for a year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Shortly after he entered the New York City Police Academy in July 2001, he and his fellow cadets were plucked out of the academy and planted on the streets after the events of 9/11. He described the experience as a “baptism by fire.”
“I was in the academy for 10 weeks. We had very limited training, no gear other than our gray shirts and our shoes and pants, and we were put out onto the road,” he said. “We were on the road for about a month doing perimeter security and traffic control in lower Manhattan … to free up the trained first responders to handle the heavier stuff. So that was the beginning of my career.”
After he graduated from the academy in 2002, Capt. Grattan patrolled the 112th Precinct in Queens in an unmarked yellow taxicab as part of the station’s burglary team.
On Sept. 12, 2005, he transferred to the Southold Town Police Department.
“To be able to come back to this community to police was a dream come true for me,” he said. “I have no regrets about going to the city. I enjoyed every moment there and made a lot of great friends … But I knew I didn’t want to stay in the city forever. I wanted to come back out here because I like it out here — I like the trees, I like the fields, I like to look up at the stars and I like the peace and quiet.”
Capt. Grattan’s leadership skills and rapport with his officers flourished when he began heading his own squad as a sergeant in 2017.
“I let my officers get involved and if I saw something that I thought needed to be addressed, I would step in,” he said of his leadership style. “But in order for them to improve and to learn, I like to allow them the freedom to make their own decisions.
“I consider myself to be easygoing,” he continued. “I like to have open conversations, I want them to feel comfortable with me, and I think for the most part, they all do. They know they can approach me; I try to be very approachable.”
During his tenure as town Supervisor, Scott Russell has voted for his promotions to sergeant, lieutenant and captain.
“He’s an excellent officer, very well regarded within the community and the department, which matters,” Mr. Russell said. “You want to make sure who you are promoting to a leadership role has the respect and support of the officers, and I can honestly say he does. He’s very highly regarded within his ranks.”
The Southold resident met his future wife at a Police Benevolent Association event hosted at Porto Bello in Greenport, where Ms. Grattan, then Megan Walters, tended bar. They married Oct. 4, 2014.
“She picked ‘10-4,’ which worked for me because I will never forget that,” he joked.
When they are not working, the couple enjoy loading their three children — Elaina, Tommy and Sophia — into the car and enjoying the outdoors.
“We like to go to the beach and the kids enjoy paddle boarding,” he said. “My parents have a condo up in North Conway, N.H. We try to get up there two or three times a year in the winter and do some skiing … at one ski mountain in particular, [the kids] get to take the chairlift up to the top and there’s a little ice cream shack up there. And we also go up there every July, there’s some cool nature walks, streams and a lake up there that we swim in.”
Apart from a bowl of Life Savers and the photo of his children saved as the background on his desktop, there are no signs that Mr. Grattan has had time to make his new office his own yet. When he gets the chance, he said, he plans to adorn his desk with family photos and a porcelain police officer coin bank he dug up from his basement.
More pressing, however, is reviewing additional body camera footage as officers continue using the new equipment and preparing for the department’s transition to a singular records management system based out of Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of learning curves with that,” Capt. Grattan said. “Naturally, there’s going to be some hurdles that we have to overcome. The fall is a good time [to roll it out], it’ll be a little slower.”
While many police officers retire after 20 years, the new captain is playing the long game. Currently 43, he has no intention of taking off the badge for good anytime soon.
“I still feel like I have youth on my side,” he said. “I have some good years ahead of me.”