Reecks' family: He was planning retirement

Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, a county police hate-crimes unit supervisor who handled numerous high-profile bias cases, was killed Saturday in a one-car accident on Sunrise Highway in Center Moriches. Videojournalists: James Carbone, Jim Staubitser and Thomas A. Ferrara (Aug. 6 , 2011)

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Autopsy and toxicology results are expected soon in the off-duty death of Suffolk hate-crimes unit supervisor Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, who crashed his unmarked police car early Saturday, authorities said.

Detectives are also doing a forensic examination of the car, a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria that Reecks, 57, was driving in Moriches, heading east on Sunrise Highway when he veered off the road and hit a concrete bridge support. He'd worked a 2 to 10 p.m. shift the night before.

The tests will help investigators piece together what happened before the wreck: whether the car malfunctioned, what maneuvers Reecks might have made before impact and whether a medical condition impaired his driving.

Detectives have said they don't believe alcohol or drugs were involved. They are looking into whether speed was a factor. The Ford was owned by the department but Reecks, as a supervisor, had a car assigned to him that he could take home.

Reecks' family is planning funeral services for a man they say was looking forward next year to retirement. "It was time for him and I -- or it was going to be," his widow, Rita Reecks, sobbed Sunday. "We were going to do the last two years and then enjoy retirement."

Visitation will be at DeFriest-Grattan funeral home in Mattituck Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A service will be Thursday at a crematorium in Coram. The time has not been determined.

His family mourned in their Riverhead home Sunday, fondly recalling his predilection for gadgets and cars, his disarming, biting sense of humor and his love of police work.

Rita Reecks laughed, only half in jest, as she described how the family was long afraid to commit even the smallest infraction. "We wouldn't do anything to break the law, because God help us if we came home and told him," she said.

Reecks, with 30 years on the force and 13 as unit head, handled both low- and high-profile hate crimes. He helped run the investigation into the 2008 stabbing death of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue by eight teens, a crime that attracted national headlines.

"Stressful" is how Reecks' widow said he'd talk about his recent times on the force. "He was getting very frustrated with the job," she said.

Earlier this year, Reecks was effectively demoted from the unit when brass installed a higher-ranking officer as commander. About a week later, he quit a county bias task force. Reecks and County Executive Steve Levy administration clashed over how the unit should be run.

At home, Reecks was a caring son who housed his elderly parents at his home for years, his family said, and a civic-minded neighbor and father to two stepsons. "Everybody in the family loved him," said a stepson, Mike Caputo, 34, of York, Pa.

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