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Freeport police chief retiring after more than 30 years

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Freeport Police Chief Miguel Bermudez, 59, will retire after just over 33 years with the department, including the last nine as chief.

He announced in June that he would retire this month, but he had mulled the plan for the past year. Village officials have not said who will become the interim chief after Bermudez’s retirement, nor have they named any candidates for a permanent chief. Bermudez explained that once the police chief civil service tests are administered next year, the job will be offered to one of the top three scorers after interviews.

Retiring makes sense now, he said. In 2015, he oversaw implementation of the village’s license plate reader program, which has reduced crime by 54 percent, according to the village. In 2018 alone, the LPR scanners read 50 million license plates. In March 2015, the FPD also equipped officers with body and dashboard cameras.

“I think I’m leaving the department at a good time,” Bermudez said. “Things are going very well. We’ve made a lot of changes, and put it all together to drive down crime to the lowest level.”

He joined the Police Department in April 1986. He was promoted to sergeant in 1993, to lieutenant in 2008 and to the top position in 2010. For the past 41 years, Bermudez has also been a member of the Freeport Fire Department’s Wide Awake Engine Company No. 1.

“I’ve felt that I’ve served this village, this Police Department well,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, and done some great projects. We have great a relationship and respect from the community.”

“Funny thing,” he added. In the beginning, he hadn’t planned to be a police officer. If anything, he wanted to become an aerospace engineer. After graduating from Freeport High School in 1978, he enrolled at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury — where, he admitted, he grew tired of engineering. Then his older brother brought home an extra copy of the police exam that changed the course of his life. He sent in the application, took the exam and passed.

Soon after, he had job offers from the Nassau County Police Department and the Freeport Police Department. He went into the police academy and became a Freeport officer without hesitation.

“I knew from the start that this was something that I was going to love,” he said with a smile.

Assistant Chief Ray Horton, 59, was sworn into the police department the same day as Bermudez, April 7, 1986, and has worked alongside him since. Reflecting on the chief’s retirement, Horton said he wishes him the best of luck.

“It is well-deserved,” Horton said. “ He has dedicated a lot of time and energy into our department. His leadership has resulted in a highly motivated police department, and it has been a significant impact to the reduction of crime.”

Bermudez was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to Freeport with his parents and older brother when he was 9 months old, in April 1961. On his first day in Freeport, to mark their first day in America, his family posed for a photo in front of the Police Department.

On Sept. 26, at 5 p.m., the FPD will host a traditional Walk Out when Bermudez leaves the department as chief for the last time. The event is expected to attract local elected officials, retired police officers from across Long Island and village residents.

In retirement, Bermudez plans to travel, write a book or two and perhaps get out on the water to do some boating, but his priority, he said, will be to volunteer in Freeport. He added that he might take a couple of history courses for fun at a local college. A history buff, he also plans to write a book on the history of the Freeport P.D., similar to his first book, “An Illustrated History of the Freeport Fire Department,” which he co-authored with Donald Giordano.

“I’m satisfied with the way my career has gone,” Bermudez said. “This is home, and I look at Freeport as part of the fabric of me.”