It was more like a party and less like a...

It was more like a party and less like a ceremony Wednesday as Suffolk County Police Deputy Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis danced her way into retirement. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Retiring Suffolk County Deputy Police Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis finished her last day on the job Wednesday in Yaphank, complete with a traditional walkout ceremony that included bagpipes and an official announcement of her final exit.

It also included something else — Mention-Lewis dancing her way out the doors of the police department, climbing into a convertible with the top down on a cold, blustery day, and driving off.

Mention-Lewis served 12 years as the department’s first woman and first person of color to hold the civilian position. She leaves a legacy as someone officials described as a “trailblazer.”

“The message has been coming to me for weeks, which is, don't be afraid to do big things,” Mention-Lewis told more than 100 colleagues, friends and family lined up to say farewell.

“As I did this job,” she continued, “as my brothers and sisters in blue know, my only goal has ever been God's will, to have all of you to honor the community, all of the community, every aspect of the community.”

Mention-Lewis previously served as a prosecutor in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office where she was chief of youth development and redirection, helping juvenile offenders navigate the justice system avoid recidivism.

She was appointed by former Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and served stints as acting police commissioner and oversaw the Community Relations Bureau, Internal Affairs and developed implicit bias training for police officers.

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine presented her with a proclamation at the ceremony, which was also attended by Bellone and former Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

Mention-Lewis thanked Bellone, and the pair danced to the song, “Jerusalema,” a bouncy hit by South African DJ and music producer Master KG.

“She brought with her a new way of thinking about how we fight crime and suppression, but with community-based intervention and providing people with a pathway,” Bellone said. “She had a profound impact the past 12 years and it's a different department today because of her innovation and the work that she's done.”

Romaine noted that new Deputy Commissioner Belinda Alvarez-Groneman, a retired Suffolk County detective and prior assistant to the police commissioner, is, like Mention-Lewis, a person of color.

“I think diversity is important because I think any police department should try to represent the community they serve," Romaine said.

Romaine said he expects to also appoint a new police commissioner soon following the resignation of Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison.

The department is currently being led by acting commissioner and Chief of the Department Robert Waring.

Correction: The headline on an earlier version of this story misstated Mention-Lewis' title.

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