South Jamesport Avenue has been given the honorary designation “Det. Brian Simonsen Way” by a resolution unanimously adopted by the Riverhead Town Board this evening.
Simonsen, a Jamesport native and a resident of Calverton, was killed in the line of duty Feb. 12 after responding to a report of an armed robbery in the Queens precinct he spent his career protecting.
He grew up in the family home on South Jamesport Avenue and is interred at Jamesport Cemetery.
The officer’s friend, Melissa Peeker, brought the idea of naming South Jamesport Avenue to honor Simonsen to the town board.
“To know Brian was to absolutely love Brian,” Peeker said in a letter to the town board. “He never met a stranger and he was the first person to put a smile on your face if you were ever in need of one. This, along with his ability to overcome extreme tragedy and always see the better good coined his nickname, ‘Smiles,’” Peeker wrote.
Peeker, whose husband is a retired Riverhead Town police officer, noted the outpouring of love for Simonsen after his untimely death at age 42 — including a funeral that was “attended by thousands of people from all over the country, a testament to the bond that is created the second you take the oath to protect and serve.”
It was also a testament to the individual “Smiles” was, she wrote. “He truly was one of a kind.”
Simonsen’s wife Leanne, mother Linda and grandfather, Vernon Petersen were on hand to witness the passage of the resolution by the town board.
Before casting their votes, town board members thanked his family and assured them Simonsen will never be forgotten in the Town of Riverhead.
The fallen officer’s family members said they were moved by and appreciated the town’s gesture.
“It shows a lot of respect and it’s a great tribute to him,” Simonsen’s mother said after the vote. “It makes me very happy that he was so well loved by so many people,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.
Simonsen’s widow also grew emotional as she tried to talk about what the honor means to her.
“It means everything to me,” Leanne Simonsen said. “My main goal is for him never to be forgotten.”
The town will unveil the sign during a ceremony on South Jamesport Avenue at a later date, to be announced.
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