There is only one East Hampton Town Police Officer of the Year for 2022, but “we easily could have had three or four officers of the year this past year,” Police Chief Michael Sarlo said this week.
Officer Bradley Hughes, a seven-year veteran of the East Hampton Town Police Department, who took top honors as Officer of the Year, was among over a dozen members of the department to be recognized.
“We are extremely proud of the outstanding work done by so many of our officers,” said Chief Sarlo. “Our focus on community policing, improved professional standards, seeing investigations through, and providing public safety services for our community is quite evident in the officers receiving awards.”
“I wanted to be a cop for a long time,” said Officer Hughes, who comes from a line of law enforcement officers on both sides of his family. “We go all the way back,” he said.
In earning this year’s top honorific, Chief Sarlo said, Officer Hughes was the valedictorian of the “rigorous and intensive 160-hour Drug Recognition Expert training course offered by the Suffolk County Police Department.”
Mr. Hughes attributed the award in large part to a “CPR save in Montauk,” which he performed on a woman at Gurney’s Resort in the fall.
The 29-year-old officer, a through-and-through local — his mother is a Bennett — graduated from East Hampton High School in 2011 before attending college at St. John’s University in Queens, where he studied criminal justice and homeland security. He was a part-time traffic control officer for the department while in high school.
Officer Hughes lives in Amagansett and is an active volunteer firefighter in the hamlet. When he’s not on police or fire duty, he said, you might find him sailing with his girlfriend out of the Breakwater Yacht Club in Sag Harbor. (It’s her sailboat, not his, he said.)
Other departmental winners this year included Lt. Chelsea Tierney, who shared a Meritorious Police Service Award with Officer Hughes. “Lieutenant Tierney is our de partment accreditation manager,” said Chief Sarlo via email, noting that she “led the agency” through its five-year New York State Division of Criminal Services’ Accreditation Council on-site assessment visit last spring. The council presented her with its John Kimball O’Neill Award “for her outstanding work maintaining our accreditation compliance standards files,” said the chief.
Detective Arthur Scalzo, who was the lead coordinator in a big Montauk narcotics investigation last year, won the agency’s Excellent Police Service Award. The investigation resulted in 20 felony-level charges after a multiagency task force broke up an international drug ring based in the hamlet.
Another standout award-winner was Officer Grace Peterson, who delivered a baby on the front porch of an East Hampton residence last year, earning her a Departmental Recognition award.
The chief also commended several officers for saving lives last year, either by performing CPR or using Narcan to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. On that front, Mr. Hughes took a third Lifesaving Award, sharing the honor with Officers Matthew Griffiths, Tyler Gilbride, Jake Bramwell, and Melanie Anderson.
Rounding out the award winners was Officer Andrea Kess, who earned the D.W.I. Award.
“There are so many tremendous small acts of good work which go unrecognized throughout the year as well,” said Chief Sarlo. “We thank all our officers, dispatchers, and Marine Patrol for the work they do day in and day out.”
Officer Hughes offered his own thanks and gratitude in an interview this week at police headquarters in Wainscott. “This is a good town that we work for,” he said. Some big and recent challenges facing the agency, he suggested, include “keeping up with bail reform,” which he described as “a little discomforting” when officers make an arrest on a serious charge, only to see the person released without bail.
Pointing to an increasing challenge for police in dealing with the state’s legalization of marijuana, he cautioned, “Don’t smoke and drive.”
Officer Hughes also spoke to some of the larger policing issues that have made headlines in recent years, citing among others the death of George Floyd in 2020. “There have been bad incidents — a lot of bad stuff happening in policing,” he said, as in last month’s tragedy in Memphis, in which five police officers are charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
East Hampton, Mr. Hughes suggested, is pretty much “isolated from the rest of the nation, and away from those crazy, horrendous, heinous events that have taken place.”