Representatives from all five East End town police departments — as well as the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, courts, corrections, and New York State—filled the Hyatt Hotel’s Sea Star Ballroom in downtown Riverhead to capacity for the 49th Annual Police Awards ceremony on Friday night, January 25.
The Southampton Kiwanis Club, now celebrating a half a century, sponsors the annual dinner which honors outstanding peer-selected police officers who regularly rise above and beyond the call of duty on the East End. New York State Police Captain Jose Febo recognized Trooper Michael Masino and Riverhead Town Police Officer Richard Freeborn, who worked together to locate and rescue a 44-year-old man who had fallen into the water at Grangebel Park on September 19. Though unresponsive at first, the officers were able to regain a pulse after providing CPR. Captain Febo said that collaboration showed him an unprecedented willingness of separate agencies to work together to fight crime.
“The level of cooperation — on the street, at the chief level, the intermediate level — is something I haven’t seen in my career path in 25 years,” he said. “It’s very nice to see that trying times bring people together.” The evening’s 14 winners were all in the running to be the Kiwanis member-chosen winners of two overall awards: The illustrious Howard C. Stock Memorial Award, as well as a brand-new honor named for former Hampton Bays Fire Department Chief, as well as both Southampton and Sag Harbor police officer, Gerard Buckley, who died in March 2017.
Police Officer David McGayhey became the very first to take the Howard C. Stock Memorial Award back to Shelter Island after his work on several cases, including investigation into the brutal bondage and home invasion of retired priest Paul Wancura in March. The incident is one Shelter Island Police Sargent Terrance LeGrady said “would have shaken even the most hardened veteran cop.” McGayhey, he added, “handled the call like the true professional that he is.”
The Gerry Buckley Award was presented to Suffolk County Court Officer Randy Caparco by Ann Buckley, the late Buckley’s wife. Event chair Debbie Brown said the recipient chosen best emulates Buckley: Someone who has a huge heart, never looks for recognition nor thinks about risk to himself. “Buckley was the type of person who would see someone in distress and jumps into action,” said Brown.
Other officers awarded for their bravery and hard work: Southampton Town’s Ryan Hughes, Southampton Village’s Andrew Cassel, Westhampton Beach’s Andrew Kirwin, William A. Gladding of Quogue, Suffolk County Sheriff Department’s Deputy Sheriff Investigator Brian Grazidei, East Hampton Town’s Arthur Scalzo, Eben Ballo and Bethany Semlear of the East Hampton Village Police Department, Sag Harbor’s Robert Drake, Christopher Delaney of Suffolk County Corrections, and Southold Town Police Officer John Crosser.