More than 100 people gathered under a large tent on Monday afternoon outside Police Department headquarters on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Shelter Island Police Department.
It was ceremony Island-style, with Sara Mundy’s flawless performance of the National Anthem, and a blessing from Father Peter DeSanctis, who prayed to “help me to understand my neighbors and strangers, their background motives and shortcomings, even as you Lord, understand mine.”
Also on the program was a beautiful recognition of men and women who serve, and a second, even more powerful Ms. Mundy performance, of “America the Beautiful” and a bagpipe recessional.
At the heart of the ceremony was the roll call, a recognition of every member of the Department, past and present, introduced in order of when they were hired, serving as a kind of history of the department.
Chief Jim Read honored family members of officers who have passed away, including Shirley Ferrer, wife of George Ferrer, the Shelter Island Police Department’s first official chief in the post-constabulary era, and a 25-year veteran of the force, who died of a heart attack while on duty at his desk.
A video montage of dozens of photographs, newspaper clippings and identification cards created by Sgt. Terrance LeGrady, who also organized the event, was shown during the ceremony. The video, in unforgettable images, told the rich history of the department and its centrality to the community.
After the ceremony, retired Sgt. Richard Jernick, one of the Shelter Island Police Department’s founding officers, walked with his wife to the celebratory supper in the Firehouse across the street, and as usual he had a story.
“I found out that Peter [Bay Constable Peter Vielbig] carries the handcuffs I used until I retired — the same handcuffs,” he said.
Constable Vielbig knew because Mr. Jernick’s initials — scratched into the surface by Mr. Jernick himself — are still visible 28 years later.
Photos by Charity Robey.