K9 units from police departments across the region lined up at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton this morning to pay their respects to “Rocky,” the Riverhead Police K9 officer killed in the line of duty on Sept. 2.
A Riverhead Police K9 officer since 2011, Rocky was killed in a motor vehicle accident involving his police unit, which was one of several in pursuit of a man who refused to stop at a sobriety checkpoint, struck an officer within the checkpoint and fled the scene. Rocky’s handler, Police Officer John Morris, was injured in the crash.
The operator of the vehicle that fled the scene remains at large. He refused to stop at the checkpoint on Peconic Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2. Several Riverhead police units pursued the vehicle, described as a dark-colored Audi. The K9 unit crashed just west of Raynor Avenue on West Main Street. Rocky was ejected from the vehicle, police said. Police terminated the search in Manorville when it became too dangerous, according to a police press release. Both injured police officers were transported by Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Peconic Bay Medical Center, where they were treated and released.
There was a private ceremony this morning at the pet cemetery in Middle Island, where Rocky was cremated.
The funeral procession, with Rocky’s urn transported by Officer Morris in his personal vehicle, drove into Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton, past a long line of K9 units that came from as far away as New York City to bid farewell to one of their own. Police officers stood at attention with their K9 partners next to their vehicles as the funeral procession slowly drove by. Southold Police, Southampton Police, Suffolk County Police, N.Y. State Police, New York City Police, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, N.Y. Environmental Conservation Police, MTA Police, and Amtrak Police were among the law enforcement agencies represented. The procession then continued from the park to Riverhead Town Police Headquarters, driving down Main Street and past Riverhead Town Hall.
Riverhead Police are accepting donations in memory of Rocky to go toward the acquisition, training and maintenance of a new K9 officer. Rocky was one of two K9s serving in the Riverhead Police Department.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti