Riverhead Police Officer Sean Mackie, right, was named 2015 Police Officer of the Year by the Riverhead PBA, Mackie, right, accepts the award from PBA board member Rich Freeborn Saturday night. Photo: Peter Blasl

Riverhead Police Officer Sean Mackie was honored as police officer of the year by the Riverhead Police Benevolent Association Saturday night at its annual installation dinner-dance.

Mackie was tapped for the honor because of “his passion to do the job, to protect and serve the people of the Town of Riverhead,” PBA vice president John Morris told the packed house at the Suffolk Theater.

“He gets angry and indignant when crimes are committed on his watch,” Morris said.

Mackie, who started his law enforcement career in Enrico County, Virginia in 2003 “has Riverhead PD in his blood,” Morris said. He is the son of retired Riverhead police officer Frank Mackie, who served 21 years with the department.

“This is Sean’s home, where he absolutely loves to work,” Morris said.

Morris recalled two of Mackie’s arrests last year, bringing in two men responsible for “a slew of larcenies” on March 29.

“He had an idea who was doing it, from his patrols of the past few days,” Morris said. “He said to me in so many words, ‘Let’s go get ‘em.’”

During his shift that night, Mackie brought in the perpetrators, two men who were in possession of thousands of dollars worth of stolen property.

Morris said the job of picking police officer of the year is “no easy task” because of the fine police work done by officers in the department.

He singled out the work last year of squad two officers Mike Lombardo, Eric Lipinsky, Christopher Tam and Charles Silleck, who last year arrested three people “involved in a large-scale, island-wide stolen car ring.” He also noted the arrest by officers Eric Cohen and Anthony Montalbano of a suspect in a larceny at Kmart that resulted in the recovery of a handgun.

“Riverhead PD sure doesn’t make this job easy on me and that’s why you guys and girls are the finest police officers around,” Morris said.

The PBA also recognized the work of a non-member during Saturday night’s ceremonies.

“As police officers, we see things and hear things that most people don’t want to see and hear,” Morris said. “At times we forget the person who took that call, the person who sent us on that call.”

Morris called Riverhead public safety dispatcher Tanya Newman to the stage for an award honoring her actions last February “when she took a 911 call from a young girl yelling that her mother had just been shot by her mother’s boyfriend and that the boyfriend had chased the girl outside,” Morris said.

“Tanya took the call, was able to gather information and dispatch numerous units to the scene,” Morris said. “She kept the girl on the phone and continued to gather info for responding units. Several times Tanya had to convince the girl not to go back in that house.”

“There is no doubt that these efforts kept the girl from not only witnessing a horrific incident,” Morris said. Turning to Newman, he said, “More likely, Tanya, you saved this girl’s life.”

In addition to the PBA honor, Morris announced, Newman has been selected as the Riverhead Town Labor Management Committee 2015 employee of the year.

The PBA also honored Lt. Robert Peeker and Det. David Freeborn for their many years service to the department and the community. Both men retired from the force last year.

Det. Frank Hernandez was chosen by Riverhead Police Department as Kiwanis police officer of the year, Morris announced. That award that will be presented at a Kiwanis ceremony later this month.

“Hernandez is one of the most well-respected detectives on the island,” Morris said. “So kudos to you, Frank.”

The PBA installed two new board members, Brian Clements and James Welsh, who were sworn in to office by Chief of Police David Hegermiller.

The annual PBA event is organized Police Officer Rich Freeborn, “who really pulls the whole thing together,” Morris said.

Saturday’s ceremonies were attended by town board members James Wooten, Jodi Giglio and Timothy Hubbard, and chief of staff Larry Levy on behalf of Supervisor Sean Walter, who was out of town visiting colleges with his son. It was also attended by former police chief Joseph Grattan and representatives of several area police department PBAs including Suffolk County Police Conference and Suffolk County PBA, Southampton PBA, Southold PBA and Westhampton PBA.

Tanya Newman, right, accepts an award from Riverhead PBA board member Rich Freeborn, as her husband Todd looks on. Photo: Peter Blasl
Public safety dispatcher Tanya Newman, right, was honored for her actions during a 911 call from a young girl who had just witnessed her mother shot by her ex-boyfriend. Newman accepted the award from Riverhead PBA board member Rich Freeborn, as her husband Todd looked on. Photo: Peter Blasl


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RIverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller administered the oath of office to new PBA board members Brian Clements and James Welsh as Police Officer Dennis Cavanagh looked on. Photo: Peter Blasl


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The PBA board of directors and members of the Riverhead Town Board on the stage of the Suffolk Theater Saturday night. Photo: Peter Blasl


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Lt. Robert Peeker, left and Det. David Freeborn, who both retired last year, were recognized for their many years of service. With them on stage Saturday night were their wives Melissa, left, and Kelly. Photo: Peter Blasl

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.