Left to right: Officer John Morris; Councilman James Wooten; Councilwoman Jodi Giglio; Shirley R. Watson, Chairman, Island Federal Credit Union; Bret W. Sears, President/CEO Island Federal; Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith; Councilwoman Katherine Kent and Police Chief David Hegermiller. Photo: Courtesy Island Federal Credit Union

The Riverhead Police Department was presented with $15,000 Thursday in memory of “Rocky,” the K9 officer killed in the line of duty Sept. 2.

“The Department expresses its deepest gratitude not only for these donations, but all donations and the outpouring of support from the community and all first responder agencies local and nationwide,” the police said.

Two $7,500 donations came Island Federal Credit Union and from Ron Harriri and Colleen O’Brien of Aquebogue. The money will be used to pay for a new K9 officer and all associated K9 costs such as maintenance, equipment and training, police said.

Pictured from left, Councilwomen Kent,, Councilman Hubbard, Chief Hegermiller, Colleen M. O’Brien, Councilman Wooten. Photo: Courtesy Riverhead Police Department

“We’re just happy the new dog is on the way and we helped a little bit,” Harriri said.

“No amount of money can replace the loss of a dog like Rocky,” Island Federal president and chief executive officer Bret Sears said

Sears said that the bank employees and staff were touched by the story of Rocky and they knew they wanted to do something, as a way not only of showing their appreciation, but also their gratitude to all members of the Riverhead Town Police Department.

“We are honored to be able to give back to a community that has welcome us since the opening of our Riverhead branch five years ago,” he said.

Rocky was responding with his handler Officer John Morris in pursuit of a vehicle whose driver refused to stop at a sobriety checkpoint at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. The vehicle struck an officer within the checkpoint and fled, police said. The K9 unit was one of several police units that pursued the fleeing vehicle. The driver of the K9 unit lost control of the vehicle on West Main Street near Raynor Avenue. The vehicle left the roadway and struck a utility polce, ejecting “Rocky,” police said Sunday.

Rocky joined the Riverhead Police force in 2011. He was named for former police chief Roscoe “Rocky” Palmer.

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Maria Piedrabuena
María, a multimedia reporter, graduated from Stony Brook University with degrees in journalism and women and gender studies. She has worked for several news outlets including News12 and Fortune Magazine. A native of Spain, she loves to read, write and travel. She lives in Manorville. Email Maria