Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison who helped catch the Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect has abruptly quit.
The 54-year-old top cop announced his resignation on Thursday night via an internal memo to his officers.
Harrison told Newsday late Thursday night he tendered his resignation before the upcoming Suffolk County Executive election to give the new official the freedom to select his own commissioner.
He said initially his last day would be on Friday, but has since told Newsday he will he stay on until sometime in December – adding that he did not yet know who will replace him as acting police commissioner.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone appointed Harrison – who was the first black commissioner in the department’s history – for the post in December 2021.
Under his leadership, a Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force was formed, which led to the arrest of prime suspect Rex Heuermann on July 31.
Suffolk County Commissioner Rodney Harrison, 54, stands alongside Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Bellone appointed Harrison to the top post in December 2021
Under his leadership, a Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force was formed which led to the arrest of Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann, 60, (pictured) on July 31
Harrison’s resignation comes just days before the Suffolk County Executive race between Democrat Dave Calone and Republican Ed Romaine. Incumbent Bellone, who has held the position since January 2012, is not running due to term limits.
According to reports, it was widely known that Harrison would not be part of the new administration.
In an email to the department, he spoke about his time spent serving as Suffolk County’s Commissioner for the last two years and honoring the people of Suffok County.
He called it a ‘privilege’ and ‘one of the greatest highlights of my law enforcement career.’
‘It has been an honor to be part of this organization and work with so many talented individuals. Each day, I have been impressed by stories of heroism, bravery and dedication to the residents of this county.
‘To say I appreciate and admire each one of you, is an understatement,’ as per The New York Post.
He also expressed his gratitude to County Executive Bellone for the opportunity.
Harrison formed the Gilgo Beach task force shortly after taking the post.
Though he told Newsday the investigation ‘was a challenge,’ he also described making the arrest as one of the ‘most personally rewarding moments in his law enforcement career.’
‘It was a challenge, but I will say this: Just being able to bring the law enforcement people together to get to that point to identifying our subject was a major accomplishment for me in law enforcement, being able to bring comfort to the families.’
‘Sometimes my predecessors got a bad rap for not getting the job done. I thought that was very unfair because a lot of good work was done before I got there.
He added: ‘We were just able to take it over the finish line.’
The first victim, Melissa Barthelemy, 24, was discovered by Suffolk County Police on December 11, 2010. The body of Megan Waterman, 22, was found two days later
Maureen Brainard-Barnes was 25 years old when she went missing (left). Amber Lynn Costello was 27 years old. Their bodies were found near Barthelemy’s the same day
The mystery began with the search for 23-year-old Shannan Gilbert, an escort from New Jersey who had vanished in May 2010 after making a frantic 911
Heuremann, 59, a married father of two adult children, is currently being held at a Suffolk County prison.
In July, he was charged with killing Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello, who disappeared in 2009 and 2010.
Authorities said he is also the ‘prime suspect’ in the killing of Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Bellone commended Harrison for his service to Suffolk County during his two year reign citing that he led the police department with ‘honor, integrity, and distinction.’
‘Commissioner Harrison’s achievements are innumerable, including the continued implementation of our historic police reform plan, significant investments in officer safety and tackling quality of life issues, but the most significant in his tenure is the arrest of an alleged serial killer in connection to the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation,’ he said, in part.
‘On the day I nominated Commissioner Harrison for the post, December 14, 2021, I specifically cited the Gilgo Beach serial murder case as the top priority.
‘I said that Commissioner Harrison would ‘bring to bear his extensive investigative experience on this case and work with our federal, state and local partners to help bring closure to the victims and their families.’
Vergata’s legs were found in a plastic bag at Davis Park on Fire Island’s Blue Point Beach nearly two decades prior on April 20, 1996. Her skull was then found off Ocean Parkway in 2011
John Ray, the attorney for Shannan Gilbert’s family, and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison speak at a press conference on Wednesday
‘In his first week on the job, Commissioner Harrison toured the Gilgo site himself and made a commitment to families to do everything in his power to solve the case.
‘And just six weeks later, he established the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force on February 15, 2022, which ultimately led to the arrest in the case.
Last month, Harrison appeared at presser with John Ray, the attorney for Shannan Gilbert’s family regarding the Gilgo Beach case.
During the press conference it was announced that new witnesses have claimed that they saw Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect Rex Heuermann with two sex workers – whose deaths he has not been charged with.
Four new witnesses have come forward in recent weeks – two of which have given sworn affidavits.
The new witnesses’ statements pertain to two other women, Karen Vergata and Shannan Gilbert, whose remains were found scattered across Long Island. No one has ever been charged over their deaths.
John Ray, who worked alongside Harrison on on the Gilgo Beach investigation, issued a statement to DailyMail.com on his resignation and called him a ‘champion of the people.’
‘He has achieved sorely needed excellence, because he did not accept the past, he did not rest contented with the status quo,’ he said, in part.
‘He is a model for all good police officers, a true hero. I shall miss his leadership. But we shall remain in communication, for we are friends.’
Harrison was appointed by Bellone on December 14, 2021, after a nationwide search. The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved his appointment.
A 30-year-NYPD veteran, he was previously the chief of department at the NYPD.
In an interview with Newsday last year, he said: ‘I’m humbled being the first African American police commissioner, but I also feel I am deserving of it.’
Harrison was also the fifth police commissioner to oversee and revive the Gilgo Beach investigation, vowing to make it a top priority as commissioner.