By Kathryn G. Menu
The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees honored Officer Randy Steyert, who shortly after 6 a.m. on December 16 discovered the fire behind Main Street, with a Certificate of Appreciation on Tuesday night. The Sag Harbor Village Police Department has also recognized Officer Steyert as its 2016 Police Officer of the Year for his actions during the fire, which Police Chief Austin McGuire said prevented the disaster from becoming a full-blown tragedy.
The Southampton Kiwanis Club will celebrate this honor at its 47th annual East End Police Awards dinner on January 20.
Officer Steyert was joined Tuesday by his parents, wife, members of the village police department, a former partner from the New York City Police Department — where he worked for four years before returning to Sag Harbor in 2014 — and his 13-month old son, Barrett, who was partially responsible for his father’s decision to grab a quick cup of coffee at SagTown before his shift on December 16.
Up for much of the early morning with Barrett, who was nursing a high fever and struggling to sleep, Officer Steyert smelled smoke when he arrived at SagTown just after 6 a.m. Investigating the scene, he spied a small fire on the deck behind the Meridian Building, which housed Compass Real Estate offices on its ground floor and an apartment on its second floor. He alerted fire department officials, told a barista at SagTown to leave the building, and saved the life of the lone resident above Compass, waking him by repeatedly banging on his door. The resident evacuated as smoke filled the building and flames climbed through the structure.
His “quick response during the crisis proved instrumental in saving lives and mitigating the devastation caused by the fire,” Sag Harbor Mayor Sandra Schroeder said while reading the proclamation to Officer Steyert, who was holding his young son. Mayor Schroeder expressed the community’s “everlasting gratitude” for his decision to join the police department in Sag Harbor.
On Wednesday, Chief McGuire said naming Officer Steyert as the Officer of the Year was an easy decision to make after his heroism that morning.
“What he did that day was phenomenal,” said Chief McGuire. “When the seconds really mattered, he acted, and he saved a life in doing so.”
The Kiwanis Club will celebrate a member of each of the 10 East End police departments, including Officer Steyert, on January 20, announcing the Howard C. Stock Memorial Award that evening.
Sgt. Thomas Pagano, another officer in Sag Harbor, will be recognized for once again winning the “Top Cop” award for the most DWI arrests in the department in 2016. He will be honored in the spring by the Suffolk County STOP DWI program. A perennial winner of the “Top Cop” award in Sag Harbor, Chief McGuire said Sgt. Pagano has taken home the award “as long as I can remember.”
In total, the department logged 30 DWI arrests in 2016, up from 22 in 2015.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Ms. Schroeder thanked the entire police department, as well as the Sag Harbor Fire Department, Ambulance Corp, and Highway and Public Works Department, for their join efforts in battling the Main Street fire.
“We are very fortunate to have them,” she said, noting most of the emergency service personnel and members of the fire department work on a volunteer basis.
“Thank you for your support this last year,” said Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Thomas Gardella. “The firemen appreciate it.”
Chief Gardella asked for — and received — permission to explore the cost of renovating the department’s kitchen facilities and adding-on a conference room at its Brick Kiln Road firehouse.