RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (PIX11) — The longtime county executive of Suffolk County, Steve Bellone, sang the praises of his outgoing police commissioner, Rodney Harrison, on Friday.
“He’s spent nearly two years in Suffolk County,” Bellone told reporters, “And he’s done an incredible job.”
Harrison, the first Black commissioner in department history, received mandates to introduce police body cameras to the 2,500-member force and to also increase diversity in the ranks, he received the most attention for announcing an arrest in July in the long-running Gilgo Beach serial killer case.
“Of course, making the arrest in the Gilgo Beach serial murder investigation was a top priority for both of us,” Bellone said. “Mission accomplished.”
Harrison launched a Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force in early 2022 with Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney, the New York State Police, the FBI, and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.
Within six weeks, a state police investigator connected Massapequa Park resident Rex Heuermann to a Chevy Avalanche linked to the disappearance of one victim in 2010.
Undercover investigators posing as sanitation men later recovered bottles from outside the Heuermann house. DNA swabs from the bottles tied Heuermann to one Gilgo victim. Police said his wife’s hair was found on two other victims.
Heuermann has said he is not responsible for three of the murders he is charged with.
Harrison once called Heuermann a “demon” unfit to inhabit a world of humans.
The Commissioner wrote an e-mail Thursday evening announcing his resignation and expressed gratitude to civilian and uniformed personnel in the Suffolk County Police Department.
He made a phone call to county executive Bellone to resign.
The resignation was not totally unexpected.
A new county executive will be elected next week, and it is believed the new leader will want to pick his own Police Commissioner.
Harrison spent 30 years in the NYPD before taking the position in Suffolk County.
In New York City, Harrison had risen through the ranks from police cadet to Chief of Department.
PIX11 News reached Commissioner Harrison by phone on Thursday evening and Friday. Right now, the most important thing is to spend the next couple of months with my family,” Harrison said.
The Commissioner is a father to three daughters and also has a grandson. His wife is a retired NYPD Lieutenant, while two of his daughters also joined the New York City Police Department.
District Attorney Ray Tierney, who seemed annoyed after Harrison had a press conference with private attorney John Ray two weeks ago, praised Harrison Friday for putting “family first.”
Tierney issued a statement noting Harrison’s historic tenure, adding “I am forever grateful for his commitment to partnership with my office over the past two years to keep Suffolk County safe.”
Harrison told PIX11 News his time with the Suffolk County Police Department will officially end in mid-December.
Day-to-day operations will be handled by Chief of Department Robert Waring.