It was a changing of the guard for the Shelter Island Police Department this week as Officer Walter Richards retired after 21 years.Within days, part-time Officer Kevin Springer became a full-time member of the department.
Officer Springer is following in his father’s footsteps. Arthur Springer served the Shelter Island Police Department for 21 years. Following tradition, it was dad who pinned the young officer’s shield on his uniform in a brief ceremony at Town Hall Tuesday afternoon.
Following the ceremony attended by his fellow brothers in blue and family members, Officer Springer was headed to SALT to celebrate with his new colleagues.
“You’re joining a very illustrious group,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty told Officer Springer after he administered the oath of office.
The supervisor noted that the new officer was the top scorer on the County Civil Service exam required for his appointment.
Mr. Richards refused an interview, but Chief Jim Read described him as “remarkable, not only for the Police Department, but for the entire community.”
Within the scope of his police responsibilities, he served as the DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — instructor working with elementary school students at Shelter Island School.
He served on the town’s Irrigation Committee, has coached school sports teams and operates his own business, Liberty Landscaping.
At least twice, he has reached out to assist young people by providing job opportunities or advancement.
In 2011, he hosted a party at the American Legion Hall for Jimmy Contreras of Greenport, who came from Nicaragua and became a United States citizen. The occasion was Mr. Contreras’ return from his tour of duty in the Army in Afghanistan.
Mr. Richards had hired Mr. Contreras to work for his landscaping company. The grateful young man said Mr. Richards is his role model. “He is very professional, respectful and a great friend,” Mr. Contreras said.
Currently, Mr. Richards is assisting a former Shelter Island graduate and graduate of the HB Ward Technical Center in Riverhead to advance his career in auto mechanics.