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Suffolk Police Chief of Patrol Robert Brown retiring, department says

Suffolk Police Chief of Patrol Robert Brown.

Suffolk Police Chief of Patrol Robert Brown. Credit: SCPD

The Suffolk County Police Department’s chief of patrol is retiring later this month, making him the fifth high-ranking member of the department to depart this year, the department confirmed Wednesday.

Robert C. Brown, 58, is slated to retire effective July 27, capping a 35-year career in the police department. Brown, who joined the department on Sept. 22, 1986, was paid $300,487 in 2020, according to Newsday's police payroll database.

Brown, who was named chief of patrol in 2016, started his career in the Second Precinct, and was later promoted to deputy inspector in 2005 and served as the commanding officer of the police academy and then the commanding officer of the Precinct Detective Bureau, according to the department. Brown was promoted to inspector and named the commanding officer of the Third Precinct before being promoted to assistant chief of patrol.

The department has seen a number of retirements from its leadership ranks this year, including former Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, who left in May for a job as head of security at Hofstra University. Her top deputy, former First Deputy Police Commissioner James Skopek, retired in June. Additionally, the department's other three-star chiefs — former Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante and former Chief of Support Gerald McCarthy — also retired earlier this year.

Stuart Cameron, the 4-star chief of department, was named acting commissioner after Hart's departure. The police department declined to comment Wednesday on the leadership exodus.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat who is term-limited, has said he was launching a nationwide search for a new police commissioner when Hart announced she was leaving.

In response to a Newsday inquiry Wednesday, Bellone spokesperson Mary Kate Guilfoyle said the "ongoing" commissioner search has received nearly 40 applications, and a pair of department veterans had been named to fill two of the top posts.

Effective Friday, Mathew Lewis becomes chief of detectives, and Robert Waring will serve as chief of operations, Guilfoyle said.

"While we continue our efforts to drive down crime to record-low levels and implement our historic police reform plan, we need officers of the highest caliber leading the department," Bellone said in a statement. "Chief Lewis and Chief Waring understand what it takes to get the job done and will lead the rank and file of the SCPD with honor and integrity."

Lewis joined the police department in March 1993 and spent three years as the commanding officer of the First Precinct before his promotion to deputy chief of detectives in August 2018. Lewis also was the commanding officer of the Field Auditing Section, Patrol Special Operations Bureau and Major Crimes Bureau.

Waring, who began his career in December 1986 after spending a year with the NYPD, served as the commanding officer of the Third Precinct for three years before being promoted to deputy chief of operations in August 2018. During his more than three-decade career, Waring was the commanding officer of the Precinct Detective Bureau, First Precinct Crime Section and Crime Scene Section.

"They are leaders of the highest integrity and I am confident that they both possess the talent, creativity and vision to move our department forward at this time," Cameron said in a statement.

Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and a former NYPD sergeant, said the departures are likely tied, at least in part, to Hart leaving. A new leadership team could be beneficial as the department institutes state-mandated reforms, including body cameras, he said.

"I don't find this unusual when you have a police commissioner leave because they know they're going to be replaced when the new PC comes in," Giacalone said.

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