Dozens of mourners filed into a Mattituck funeral home Tuesday night to pay their respects to Suffolk Police Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, remembering the 30-year veteran officer as a mentor, role model and trailblazer.
And while he was one of the few black supervisors in the department, some of his fellow officers said Tuesday night he earned the respect of junior and senior officers of all races.
"He was a leader," said Det. Sgt Jeff Walker, a 17-year veteran, as he walked into DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes. "He blazed a trail on the job. He was on the job 30 years. There were three black sergeants. Now there are two. He was someone I looked up to."
Uniformed officers and civilians entered the viewing hall where Reecks' open coffin was flanked by pictures of his home and work life. There were images of Reecks perched on a motorcycle, relaxing while boating with his family, and one of a proud Reecks in uniform.
"Sgt. Reecks, he was a mentor and a positive example for young and up-and-coming officers," said eight-year veteran Suffolk Police Officer Charles Ross.
He was recalled as a man who distinguished himself as commanding officer of a unit that handled major crimes that sometimes shocked Long Island and drew national attention, such as the beatings of Hispanic day laborers, and the stabbing death of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
The circumstances of his death are under investigation, but Suffolk police have said that he was off duty in an unmarked, department-issued car assigned to him when the 2008 Ford sedan veered off the road and hit a concrete bridge support at 5:32 a.m. Saturday.
Visiting will continue Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., with Suffolk County Police Department services being held at 7:30 p.m.
With Zachary R. Dowdy