Police officers from agencies across the region lined up outside Riverhead Town Police Department headquarters Wednesday afternoon to honor Det. Dixon Palmer, who retired today after 35 years on the town police force.

Palmer, the son of former Riverhead Police Chief Roscoe Palmer, joined the Riverhead Police Department full-time in 1985 after working as a part-time officer fo five years.

He was the longtime president of the Riverhead Police Benevolent Association.

The send-off included a flyover by a Suffolk County Police helicopter — despite the gathering clouds and strong winds — as well as a pipe and drum salute by the Eastern Long Island Police Pipes and Drums.

“On behalf of the town and the department, I want to thank you for your 33-plus years of service and your commitment and dedication to law enforcement statewide,” Chief of Police David Hegermiller said. “You helped make the Riverhead Police Department what it is today. Thank you and we wish you a very happy and healthy retirement.”

Police Officer Dennis Cavanagh regaled the crowd with memories of his early days on the force with Palmer.

“Just a short time ago, when Richard Nixon was president, Google and Yahoo weren’t even thought of, and some young kid graduated from Riverhead High School in 1974,” Cavanagh said.

“After college, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father,” Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh joked about his good fortune being friends with the chief’s son. It kept him out of trouble, he said.

Palmer was promoted to detective in 1994.

“Riverhead PD is not on the map unless Dixon’s there,” Cavanagh said. “But you can’t stay forever.”

Police work is in Palmer’s blood, he noted, and the legacy continues in the next generation. His son Dylan is a New York State trooper.

“Dixon is respected throughout the state,” Cavanagh said, pointing to the large turnout from members representing many different police agencies.

“They’re all here today because of respect for one guy, Dixon Palmer,” Cavanagh said. “On behalf of Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Chief David Hegermiller and the Town of Riverhead, thank you, Dixon. We’re going to miss you, pal.”

Palmer descended the steps of Riverhead Police headquarters and passed through the lineup, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with active-duty officers and retirees alike who turned out to wish him well, including former Riverhead police chief Joseph Grattan, Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Deputy Supervisor Catherine Kent.

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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.