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Riverhead plans more cops on patrol

Constuction is well underway in downtown Riverhead off

Constuction is well underway in downtown Riverhead off of Main Street as the re-development of the town comes together. (Dec. 27, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has directed town police to add a second uniformed officer to the foot patrol in the business district, following a fatal nighttime hit-and-run accident and the unrelated robbery of two tourists.

Downtown Riverhead's business district had about a half-dozen robberies reported last year, but Walter said the two recent cases took place within a week and within a few blocks of each other.

"Providing for the public's welfare and safety is the highest responsibility . . . of town government," Walter said in a statement.

Riverhead has had an officer on foot patrol for 16 hours a day for a decade. "By putting more officers there, it will make people feel safer," said Police Chief David J. Hegermiller.

He predicted the extra police presence would be required by spring, when projects now being completed -- including the opening of the 600-seat Suffolk Theater and new housing -- will put more people on the streets daily.

Walter has also asked the state Department of Transportation to re-stripe crosswalks on Main Street and to look into traffic-calming measures.

The suspected driver in the fatal accident, Joseph Plummer, 48, of Middle Island, turned himself in to Riverhead police on Wednesday after police identified and located his car. He was arrested on a felony charge of leaving the scene after Scott Wayte of Brookhaven, who was crossing East Main Street to join friends in a restaurant to celebrate his 50th birthday, was struck and killed.

The robbery took place on Dec. 30, when a man on a bicycle approached a couple walking on Ostrander Avenue and demanded their wallets.

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