After 22 years of service, Detective Dave Freeborn made his last call yesterday as an officer of the Riverhead Police Department.
Fellow officers lined the stairs of the department’s Howell Avenue headquarters yesterday afternoon to shake his hand as Freeborn, who is retiring, walked out of headquarters as an officer for the last time.
It was an emotional moment. Wiping tears from their eyes, his mother and fiancée watched as Freeborn held up a police radio and called in his last transmission to headquarters, declaring himself “28” – the police radio code for “out of service.”
“I’m going to miss it,” Freeborn said. “But it’s time to go.”
Freeborn first joined the police department in December 1993. He was attending Suffolk Community College at the time and says he was looking for a way to give back to the community. “I just wanted to work somewhere I could help people,” Freeborn said.
Over the years, many opportunities would present themselves for him to do just that. The most memorable was in 1996, less than three years after he joined the force, when a man on a lawnmower fell into Merrits Pond and nearly drowned.
“The mud in the pond sucked him in and trapped him down there under the lawnmower,” Freeborn said. “He couldn’t get out.”
Freeborn and three other police officers responded to the scene, pulling the man from the pond and performing life-saving CPR. “It was a group effort,” he said. They were rewarded by the town with proclamations.
Being a police officer, Freeborn says, has also taught him valuable lessons about being kind to one another.
“Seeing how people treat each other was just – it was very eye-opening,” he said. “It’s horrible how mean people can be to each other. Especially when they’re related.”
That was the one lesson Freeborn wishes everyone could learn. “Everybody’s just got to get along,” he said. “We live in a town with so many different types of people. We all just need to treat each other a little better.”
As a police officer, Freeborn also had the opportunity to work alongside his older brother, Rich Freeborn, who joined the Riverhead Police Department eight years after Dave. “He was my older brother, but I had eight years on him in the force,” Freeborn said. “I liked that a lot. I could always mess around with him.”
The brothers even served as partners briefly in the department’s street crime unit. “It was a lot of fun,” Freeborn said. “It was good working with him.”
Rich, who is three years Freeborn’s senior, has been a police officer for 15 years now. He currently serves with the department’s community oriented policing enforcement unit, also known as COPE.
Dave Freeborn was promoted to detective in 2004. And after 11 years as a detective, he has decided it is time for him to hang up his uniform.
“He’s done a great job for us,” said David Hegermiller, Riverhead police chief. “It’s sad to see him go, but we wish him the best of luck.”
Now in retirement, Freeborn says he’s looking forward to relaxing with his three teenage daughters and his soon-to-be wife, Kelly Wysoczanski. They are getting married this October in Cutchogue.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Katie Blasl
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