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.’”