Two New Cops on the Beat

Mike Rodriguez and Tom Strong, the East Hampton Town Police Department’s rookie officers, on their first day on the job, Monday. T.E. McMorrow

    The East Hampton Town Police Department has hired two new officers, Tom Strong, 33, and Mike Rodriguez, 23, both of East Hampton. With Capt. Michael Sarlo acting as mentor, the department started them on Monday on a 12-week orientation and on-the-job training program.
    Both men were born at Southampton Hospital and grew up in East Hampton Town. For Mr. Rodriguez, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree: His father, Mathew L. Rodriguez, has been an officer with the force for many years. “I looked up to him growing up,” Mr. Rodriguez said yesterday.
    Mr. Rodriguez is a graduate of Pace University, where he majored in criminology and lettered in baseball. Growing up in Springs, he “played on the P.B.A. Little League 1999 champion team,” he recalled fondly.
    As for Mr. Strong, “I just wanted to get back to the community, to give back to the community,” he said. He attended the East Hampton public school system from grade school through high school. He got his first taste of policing as a traffic control officer for East Hampton Village.
    Both men have been officers for the town during summers — Mr. Strong having worked two previous years, Mr. Rodriguez one.
    According to Captain Sarlo, they will each spend their first four or five weeks on the job working with another officer, and then receive another several weeks of training in the field.
    Normally, to be eligible for the job of officer, an applicant would first take the Suffolk County Civil Service test and then attend the county’s police academy at the Suffolk Community College campus in Brentwood. In the case of these two, however, because they had previously sought summer work as officers, they did the process in reverse, taking the test first. They both earned high marks, and then went on to the academy, making them eligible for summertime employment as town police officers.
    The officers are replacing three retirees. In a February interview, Chief Edward Ecker said, “We lost, at the end of 2012, a sergeant, a patrolman, and our chief radio operator.”
    “We’re putting in a plan to have them up and running by the summer,” Chief Ecker said at the time, and Captain Sarlo has the new recruits on a course to do just that.
    When asked what the rookies’ learning curve would be, time-wise, the captain laughed. “I’ve been on the job for 18 years, and every day I learn something new,” he said.