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A top Suffolk police official is retiring, the department says

Suffolk County's First Deputy Police Commissioner James Skopek,

Suffolk County's First Deputy Police Commissioner James Skopek, left, sits next to former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart in her office at police headquarters in Yaphank in 2019. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Suffolk County’s First Deputy Police Commissioner James Skopek, a close ally of former Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, is retiring from the police department effective Friday, the department said.

Hart installed Skopek, a former Nassau police homicide detective, as her top deputy when she became Suffolk's police commissioner in 2018. Hart and Skopek had worked together when Hart, a veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, led the FBI's Long Island Gang Task Force.

Suffolk police department spokeswoman Dawn Schob confirmed Skopek’s retirement in a statement.

"First Deputy Commissioner James Skopek is retiring on June 18 and a ceremonious walkout will be held," said Schob. "Commissioner Skopek was brought on with former Commissioner Geraldine Hart and stayed on board following her departure to complete certain responsibilities. Commissioner Skopek has yet to decide the next step in his career, but is exploring potential opportunities."

Skopek is the third top Suffolk police official to put in their retirement papers in the last few months. Hart left the department in May to take a job as the director of public safety at Hofstra University. And the retirement of Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, who left amid an Internal Affairs investigation into alleged cheating on a promotional exam overseen by his office, takes effect in July. Gigante has denied any wrongdoing.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in April he was launching a nationwide search for a new police commissioner to replace Hart. Chief of Department Stuart Cameron, the highest-ranking uniformed officer, is currently the acting commissioner. A Bellone spokesman did not respond to an inquiry Wednesday into the progress of the search.

Skopek declined an interview request Wednesday. Skopek is scheduled to be feted by his fellow officers with a traditional "walkout" ceremony Friday afternoon outside Suffolk police headquarters in Yaphank.

Skopek began his law enforcement career with the NYPD. He retired from the Nassau County Police Department as a detective sergeant in the Homicide Squad in 2016 after a 29-year career. Skopek then worked for less than two years as the director of security for the Manhattan-based real estate company Ogden CAP Properties LLC, before taking the Suffolk police job.

Skopek made more than $309,000 annually in salary and pension payments while working for Suffolk police. Skopek was paid $157,300 by Suffolk County while collecting his $152,161 annual pension from his time as a Nassau and New York City police officer.

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