The Suffolk County Police Department named a new Marine Bureau vessel after Sgt. David Cherkes, who died in 2020 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. His widow Kristine Cherkes spoke at the dedication ceremony Thursday. Credit: Thomas Lambui

The Suffolk County Police Department Thursday named its newest Marine Bureau boat after a sergeant who died of cancer in 2020 in a solemn ceremony capped off with his widow christening the vessel with a bottle of bubbly.

Marine Bureau Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Paul Mamay said the 38-foot boat, which will be used to patrol Suffolk's 600 miles of waterways, represented a "lasting reminder for the department and Dave's family of his commitment" to his work.

Cherkes served as a Suffolk police officer for 29 years, including two stints with the Marine Bureau, one as a sergeant. He was with the Marine Bureau until he retired in July 2020, the department said. 

During the last 18 months of his career, Cherkes battled stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but he continued to work while undergoing chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. He died on Oct. 23, 2020.

His wife, Kristine and his two daughters, Riley and Sydney, attended the ceremony at the Great River marina. Kristine Cherkes, standing in front of boat named after her husband, said, 'I am at a loss for words. This dedication to Dave is spectacular." She said she hoped those who served aboard the vessel remembered Cherkes as "extraordinary," which was the word she said her daughters used to sum up their father.

Mamay, remembered David Cherkes for his sense of humor and how he "made people feel good." He quoted him as telling people that serving in the bureau was "a cross between 'Bay Watch' and the Navy Seals."

Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Cherkes "touched people's hearts and led by example."

Cherkes spent two years with the NYPD before joining Suffolk police. He grew up in Deer Park, graduated from Deer Park High School and attended Suffolk Community College and SUNY Farmingdale before becoming a cop.

Cherkes also served in the Third Precinct, the Fourth Precinct, the Highway Patrol Section and the Expressway Enforcement Section. He was promoted to sergeant in 2020. Cherkes was awarded the Meritorious Police Service Award after he, along with two other Fourth Precinct officers, pulled a crash victim from a car that had struck a utility pole and burst into flames. 

He also received four department recognitions, two command recognitions and was named officer of the month on two occasions.

With Thomas Lambui

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