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Riverhead paying to defend police chief

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs as a special

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs as a special guest on the Park Stage at Glastonbury Music Festival, in Glastonbury, England. Radiohead has taken a tentative step into censored Chinese cyberspace even though the British rock band has been critical of China's human rights record. Radiohead recently launched a page on the "weibo" site of leading Chinese Internet portal Sina.com. (June 24, 2011) Credit: AP

For Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, Tuesday’s town board meeting brought a blast from the past, and not a happy one.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire an attorney to defend him in an 8-year-old lawsuit that involved a canceled rock concert at Calverton.

The 2003 concert, called Field Day, was to have brought 50,000 people to town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton, whose wide open spaces were to have been filled with tents and bleachers, with the Beastie Boys and Radiohead headlining.

The town gave preliminary approval to the event in 2002 and signed a contract for a lease in February 2003 conditional on the promoters obtaining the necessary permits. But reasons not to hold the event emerged — including potential problems with crowd control, fears of camping outdoors and possible violations of the county sanitary code.

Hegermiller told the town board at the time that he would need 200 extra police officers — more than the total number of police in every other town on the East End — to deal with traffic control and public safety, anticipating that traffic jams would stretch for miles along Route 25 and William Floyd Parkway. In May, the county refused to sign off on a required mass-gathering permit, relying in part on Hegermiller’s testimony.

The promoters, who initially sued to force the town to give them a permit, changed the lawsuit to cover expenses and the loss of profits. The current board voted to hire an attorney to represent Hegermiller because he is being sued for work he did as part of his job.

“I haven’t gotten subpoenaed yet,” Hegermiller said Wednesday. “I gave a deposition ... That was several years ago.”

Above, Radiohead performs earlier this year in England.

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