Myrick earns Officer of the Year

Published 10:03 pm Saturday, April 2, 2011

Suffolk Police Detective Gary Myrick sits at his desk, hands folded, reading over a case file that fills two thick binders and is threatening to spill over into a third.

Just then, the phone rings. Myrick answers. It’s a witness in a homicide case, a close friend of the deceased.

Officer of the Year: Detective Gary Myrick has been named the Suffolk Police Department’s Officer of the Year. Myrick heads the cold case unit, which has made 10 arrests in eight homicides since it was formed just four years ago.

Suddenly, Myrick turns from detective to counselor. His steady voice doles out advice, mainly to focus on being a parent.

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He hangs up explaining all the different hats he wears. Investigator. Instructor. Mentor.

Last week, Myrick added Suffolk Police Department Officer of the Year to his list of titles — for the second time.

“I actually didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Myrick, who also earned the honor in 2001. “The other officers that were nominated did an outstanding job.”

Myrick has wanted to be in police work since he was a child, he said. As a boy, he favored military games and G.I. Joes. As a teen, he was involved in the Suffolk Police Department’s Explorer Post, which aims to teach young people what it’s like to work in a law enforcement career.

“It appealed to be because I thought that would be what I wanted to do,” Myrick said.

After working for a private security company, he came to work with Suffolk Police. That was more than 13 years ago.

“I would not have changed it,” Myrick said. “I have no second thoughts about doing it.”

He worked for about six months on day shift, then for about three years on midnight shifts. That’s when he first learned intense investigative work, because detectives were rarely called out in the middle of the night then.

“We were put into a position where we had to handle it,” Myrick said. “It was educational, but fun.”

Myrick then moved to the detective bureau. He’s now in charge of the cold case unit, which is working on 30-some unsolved homicides dating back decades. Since its formation in 2007, eight cases have been solved through the arrest of 10 suspects. But a few have been added, too.

“It does bother you,” Myrick said. “There’s no way to easily set those cases aside.”

Myrick has doggedly reviewed thousands of pages in case files, pursued new leads, sent evidence to labs for re-testing and tracked down witnesses to try to bring the cases to justice. In most of the cases that have been solved, the key element was the effects of time on both technology and humans.

“Technology has improved,” he said. “Time changes people.”

Perhaps what bothers Myrick the most is knowing that every case can be solved if the right person comes forward.

“I know in all these cases, there’s a person that holds the information,” he said. “You know there’s a person that’s a key part to the case.”

Myrick has had either a main or a helping hand in five of the eight cases the unit has solved. The unit thrives on teamwork.

“I don’t stand alone from them,” he said. “We’re part of a team back here.”

Besides his detective duties, Myrick also teaches at the regional recruit academy.

He said he appreciates being honored with the Officer of the Year award.

“It’s good to hear from your supervisors how much they appreciate what you do.”