SAYVILLE—Fifth Precinct police officer Joel Reines was honored last week after 25 years of walking the beat in Sayville, handling quality-of-life issues and making the community a safer place. The ceremony, which was attended by numerous residents, business owners, elected officials, school officials and fellow first responders, was held on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Sayville Plaza. Reines retired last week after 38 years with the Suffolk County Police Department.
Reines was clearly overwhelmed at the event, but still tried to keep it light. “I’m not going to be falsely modest,” he joked. “I know I work hard.” Reines said he knew he was appreciated, but not to the extent last week’s crowd showed. He then told the story of how he began his Sayville residency. His commanding officer at the time asked him if he could go into the town, check out whatever issues they were having at the time, and try to do something about them. When Reines said he would rather not, his commanding officer said: “Okay, you start tomorrow.”
Reines also recalled, a few years ago, a mother with a young child coming up to him and pointing out all his daily stops, which included the school when the buses arrived, the bank, and Stop & Shop Plaza. The mother then told Reines that her 8-year-old daughter referred to him as the “everywhere cop.”
“It occurred to me that if the bad guys perceived me like this 8-year-old did, I’m a deterrent,” Reines laughed. He then acknowledged this might be an oversimplification, but still believed being approachable was vital to his policing.
At one point, Reines referenced the “broken windows” theory, which proposed back in the early 1980s that fixing the small problems quickly will prevent bigger problems from escalating. Reines said that although the theory has fallen out of favor since it can sometimes put a strain on troubled, urban communities, he took the basic concept to heart. “Approachability and the reality of omnipresence is how I tried to apply the ‘broken windows’ theory, and I would like to think I was somewhat successful,” he added.
Stories circulated about the different interactions Reines had over the years with local residents, many of whom grew up under his watch. He made sure students didn’t ditch school, prevented underage drinking whenever he saw it, worked out the safety measures for town festivals, and kept an eye on the local pharmacy not long after the Medford pharmacy shooting back in 2011.
Islip Town councilman John Cochrane called Reines a “legend” in the community.
Islip councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and town clerk Olga Murray were also in attendance, as were Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone and acting Suffolk police commissioner Stuart Cameron.
Bellone said from the looks of last week’s turnout, no one wanted Reines to retire. “What [Reines] put into being a Suffolk County police officer is really special,” he added. “It touched people’s lives in an incredible way and that’s an incredible legacy to leave behind.”
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