Tag Archive | "Southampton Kiwanis Club"

Samot Named Sag Harbor’s Top Cop

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Nick Samot

Sag Harbor Police Officer Nick Samot was honored as the department’s Officer of the Year by the Southampton Kiwanis Club on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Officer Nick Samot, a five-year Sag Harbor Village police veteran, was honored as the department’s Officer of the Year by the Southampton Kiwanis Club at an event at the Long Island Aquarium and Recreation Center in Riverhead on Friday.

“I talked to the chief about it and he told me, ‘You come to work every day with a great attitude and it reflects well on the department,’” Officer Samot said of his nomination when he paused for a brief interview on Friday afternoon.

An East Hampton native, who graduated from the Suffolk County police academy in 2007, Officer Samot was a part-time officer in East Hampton Village before being added to Sag Harbor’s force as a full-time officer in January 2010.

“It’s a great town,” Officer Samot said of Sag Harbor. Even though the village has seen its share of changes, “the roots of are the same. It’s nice to walk around and have people know me.”

The same holds true for the department, he said. “There’s a good camaraderie,” he said. “It feels as tight as a family.”

Typically, the life of a village cop is a pretty low-key, Officer Samot acknowledged. “We do lots of traffic stops, but we get our occasional domestics, larcenies, and burglaries,” he said. “And it’s a big summer town, that’s for sure. The population triples in the summer.”

In his five years on the force, Officer Samot said Superstorm Sandy, which hit in October 2012, was probably “the most interesting, the wildest thing I’ve ever seen.” Because the brunt of the storm hit to the west, where some of the village’s police officers live, those living locally were pressed into overtime shifts, helping people evacuate from flooded homes on Bay Street and Long Island Avenue.

Officer Samot also represents the village on the Emergency Services Unit—“our version of the SWAT team,” he said—which responds to serious situations from the village east to Montauk.

The team was called into service last year when the authorities were trying to track down a  Springs man, who had fired a shotgun in his home,  before leaving in his car, forcing lockdowns at local schools.

“We had everyone come out for that,” Officer Samot said. “Suffolk County came out, Riverhead came out. It was interesting and it showed me how well the departments work together.” He laid the success of the operation to monthly training done by the team to keep its members sharp and learn about new tactics.

“The whole purpose of the training, the whole purpose of the ESU team, is that it’s better to be prepared than to not be prepared,” he said.

Officer Samot said he had wanted to be a police officer since he was a child, and said his dad, Ray Samot, a butcher at Cromer’s Market in Noyac, encouraged him to pursue the career as one that offered both job security and a chance to help people.

After graduating from high school in 2005 and taking a semester of classes at Suffolk Community College, Officer Samot entered the academy, which he described as a quasi-military boot camp.

“It was structured to be military-style,” he said. “You had to have a pressed uniform, and you were cleaning your shoes every night for inspection. It was double time everywhere you went, which means running. As it progressed, you got the privilege of walking.”

Officer Samot said he would love to stay with the Sag Harbor for his entire career. “This is a great spot,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints.”

Then he mentioned working with Officer Randy Steyert, a Sag Harbor local, who recently joined the force after working five years with the New York Police Department. “I told him, ‘It’s going to be a lot different. It’s not the city.’ And he said, ‘Nope. That’s why I’m here. You know someone walked past me this morning and said good morning.’”

Detective Jeffrey Proctor

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Proctor2 DSC_0054

A conversation with Det. Jeff Proctor of the Sag Harbor Police Department who was recently honored by the Southampton Kiwanis Club as the department’s Officer of the Year.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Congratulations on being named the Officer of the Year. Was there one particular case for which you were honored?

Over the course of the year, there were many felony investigations that were solved. One of them involved counterfeit $100 bills; another involved a grand larceny of $48,000; and another involved a string of burglaries last summer.

I’m very proud because it was the fourth time I was honored, once as a police officer and three times as a detective.

Have you always been a police officer?

No, believe it or not, before I became a cop, I owned a deli in Mastic. I enjoyed it. I’m a people person, and I enjoyed talking to people and hearing about their problems. It was a bit like being a bartender. In 1998, I took the police test because my father, who is a retired New York civil servant, made me. And I was looking for something with a little more security. I took it with some friends, but I was the only one who got a good enough grade to become a cop.

My first job was with Westhampton Beach. I did a lot of foot patrols on Main Street. And then I was assigned to the marine patrol and did that from 2000 to 2001. Then an opportunity arose here and I was in the mood for a change. I was hired here in June 2001. I started as a regular office and then in 2008 was promoted to detective.

When I got here in 2001, I was assigned as the DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] officer. I enjoyed that very much, working with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

I love the community I work in. I wish I could afford to live here. It’s a great community—the school district is fantastic. It reminds me of watching the Andy Griffiths Show. I enjoy coming to work. I enjoy the people I work with.

Usually we associate detectives as wearing suits, and hear you are in uniform. How are your duties different in a small department like Sag Harbor?

Being a detective here is unique because you wear so many different hats. I write vehicle and traffic summons, I respond to aided cases and quality-of-life issues, and I’ll even be seen walking the beat on Main Street in the summer months.

You become a detective at the discretion of the chief of police based on your reports and interviewing skills. He recommends you to the BCI [Bureau of Criminal Intelligence] at the Suffolk Police Academy and you go through training there.

How have things changed in Sag Harbor from the prospective of law enforcement since you have been with the force?

When the economy was booming, there was a lot less crime. With the economy not so good and construction at a bit of a standstill, crimes like burglaries and larcenies are on the rise.

There’s also a situation with drugs on the rise, including heroin. Over the past few years kids have gotten into their parents’ medicine cabinets and been taking out the pain pills. Doctors are now leery about issuing prescriptions, so the pills are not as easy to come by. So instead of buying one Oxycontin pill for 20 bucks, they’ll get a bag of heroin for five bucks. Unfortunately they are going to get hooked.

I’d say that 90 percent of the crimes I’m confronted with involve drugs in some way—the criminal is a drug user. Just about everybody who comes through this door is a drug user. To me jail is not always the answer. You need to look at treatment.

We’re shorthanded right now, so we’ve become more of a reactive department as opposed to a proactive department.  You used to see officers patrolling Main Street.

There are also fewer DWIs. People are getting smarter and taking taxis and there’s also the fact that with less staffing, we can’t be on constant patrol like we used to. We used to be able to sit on Long Wharf and just watch people pour themselves out of the bar and into their car.