Nearly 100 new recruits graduated from the Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood on Friday morning, just in time for summer, when crime traditionally is on the rise.
After completing a rigorous six and ½ month physical and academic training period, 93 new officers—66 of whom will serve as Suffolk County police officers and 12 of whom are military veterans—will hit the streets Monday.
“Today we come to recognize the dedication, hard work and perseverance of the members of Suffolk County’s 157th recruitment class,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told the graduates at Suffolk County Community College.
Dormer boasted the fact that the department is hiring while some police departments nationwide are experiencing layoffs, including forces in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Michigan. In addition, 30,000 new recruits will take the Suffolk police entrance exam Saturday in hopes of joining the next class of new recruits.
In his address, Dormer encouraged the new officers to be responsible with their authority and follow the highest ethical standards associated with their career.
“Always remember your chosen career is one of service,” Dormer told the officers. “Service to your community; service above all; service above self.”
Deputy Sheriff Sean Thompson was honored as the graduating class’ Top Overall Recruit. In his acceptance speech, he said he and his fellow rookies would protect their communities to the best of their abilities.
“What we have learned here is the foundation that will guide us into tomorrow,” said Thompson.
Many former police officers saw family members graduate in this class and aided Dormer in presenting certificates.
“After I shook my son’s hand and saluted him, it was the proudest moment of my life without a doubt,” said Ralph Maldonado, retired Suffolk police officer and father of new Suffolk County Deputy Sheriff Bryan Maldonado.
In addition to placement within Suffolk’s seven precincts and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, some graduates have been assigned to Amtrak police, Farmingdale State College police, Southold Town Police and four village police departments in neighboring Nassau County.
“Everything built up to today, and now we’re going to hit the street on Monday,” said Police Officer Robert Pape, a new officer in the Port Washington Police District. “I’m very excited.”
Although the new recruits are a good start, Suffolk County Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip) said the department needs more diversity in order to better relate to the communities they patrol.
“More diversity in the department makes it a more effective department,” Montano told the Press. “You need an officer on the street that can talk to someone in the community.”
The new class has a 13.3 percent minority representation, but Montano said 13.3 percent of 66 is not enough to serve the number of growing minority communities.
Even with 13 new officers assigned to the Third Precinct, which includes heavily minority communities of Brentwood and Central Islip—Montano’s district—he said it’s too late given five murders in six weeks in these areas.
“My problem is that it [the assigning of officers] seems to be always a reaction to someone getting killed as opposed to being there to prevent these types of issues,” said Montano. But he still hopes the new class of officers will serve the county effectively.
“We need them on the street,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Dormer insisted that safety is the county’s top priority. He is eager to see the new class—and September’s recruits—in action.
“The people of Suffolk County should know that the police department is moving forward,” Dormer told the Press. “People need to be safe in their communities. We’re ensuring that it’s going to be safe.”