Stan and Diana Ogiejko and their grandchildren placed red roses at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office memorial Thursday in Riverhead for their daughter, Candice Ogiejko.
They clutched a blanket with their daughter’s face, remembering the 25-year-old correction officer who was killed in June when she overcorrected her pickup truck and crashed into several trees on County Road 101 in Yaphank.
The Ogiejkos left the roses atop a memorial where their daughter's name was one of three names of fallen sheriff's office members added last year. They vowed to return to the sheriff’s memorial service every year to hear their daughter’s name read aloud.
“It shows she was loved and shows loyalty on their part for the people who have served,” Stan Ogiejko said. “They are a family and look out for one another while they're living and long after they’re gone.”
Candice Ogiejko was a correction officer for about 2½ years, following her cousin into the sheriff’s department. Her cousin also served in the honor guard during Thursday’s ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute.
Her mother, Diana Ogiejko, said law enforcement was her daughter’s calling.
“She was really tough and good at her job,” her mother said. “She was just the right amount of mean and just the right amount of nice.”
Candice Ogiejko was added to the memorial of 76 sheriff’s officials who have died in service since 1887. The list starts with Sheriff Henry Halsey and ends with Ogiejko, Correction Officer Vincent Cennamo III, who died in August of a heart attack and Sgt. John Lowry, who died in October from COVID-19.
Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. read the first proclamation honoring Sheriff Halsey and noted the mission to protect and serve has remained the same for the thousands of men and women who have joined the ranks for more than three centuries.
“To do this every year, the list has unfortunately grown longer,” Toulon said. “As we read the names, let us not dwell on their absence, but remember the impression they left on our lives.”
Each of the 76 officers' names was read, followed by the ringing of a bell. The honor guard of seven sheriff’s deputies fired into the air three times in the fallen officers' memories. The flag was lowered to half-staff as a trumpeter played taps.
Undersheriffs and PBA leaders placed wreaths next to the memorial that lists the fallen officers’ names.
“Like indelible ink that cannot be washed away over time, their memories inspire us to be better: better deputies, better officers and better people,” Toulon said. “We are a family. Our bond will always exist. The men and women of the sheriff’s office put themselves in harm’s way every single day and make countless sacrifices to make the community safe and to better the lives of many.”
Also listed on the memorial was Sgt. Keith Allison, the first sheriff’s official to die from COVID-19 in December 2020.
His widow, Brenda Allison, and her granddaughter placed roses at the memorial in remembrance.
“This keeps his memory alive and it means to me he's not forgotten and his legacy,” she said. “They say sometimes time makes grief easier but it doesn't. Time doesn't heal but you learn to cope.”