After watching many seasons and variations of CSI and NCIS, we knew that a detective’s job would be challenging and interesting, but we discovered that the day-to-day job of a homicide detective is by far more compelling and demanding than any TV show.

These real-life, hardworking men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) Detective Division are local heroes, working around the clock, collecting statements and evidence, putting pieces of the puzzle together, and problem solving to build the case, locate, arrest and convict criminals. Our streets and communities are safe because of the diligent work and expertise of our Detectives.

imagejpeg951We had the honor of spending some time with a top Homicide Detective, Ron Tavares. Tavares has been with the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) Homicide Detective Squad for 10 years. With an aver- age of 45–60 homicide cases every year, Tavares has managed to solve all but two cases in his 10 years; those cases remain on the top of his mind, with every other new case that comes his way.

He has been involved in some of the most high profile homicide cases that Long Island has seen, including the Nesconset stabbing case that took place in 2007. When starting a case, immediate diligence is key. According to Tavares, it’s important to get as much information and identify the name of a suspect within the first 48 hours. “If you can do that, you’re in good shape,” he says, “then the crime becomes highly solvable.”

Detective Ron Tavares began his service with the New York Police Department (NYPD), where he served in the patrol unit for three years. Tavares then joined the Suffolk County Police Department, where he was in patrol for nine years and ultimately joined the narcotics unit. In 2005, Tavares joined the detective division, where he serves today as part of an elite and dedicated group of men and women responsible for the investi- gation of all felonies, fatal accidents, and homicides.

Tavares really loves his job and despite the long hours and difficult subject matter, he’s assigned to a team of detectives who all work to put the pieces together. “I’m lucky,” Tavares remarks. “It’s so much easier when you’re surrounded by driven detectives who work as a team and become family.” The unit typically consists of three teams of six or seven detectives. They are all responsible for different aspects of the case.

Tavares has seen a lot of changes in his years as a detective. The relationship with the Crime Lab and the quick turn-around of analysis is imperative. For example, DNA analysis has become a major part of the evidence to solve cases that might previously come to a stand off. Just a few years ago, an old case resurfaced when a suspect was seen eating at a restaurant. After the suspect left, his utensils and straw were taken as evidence, and the DNA did indeed match the DNA evidence of a murder case that was previously open and unsolved. That case is now closed, and the person responsible is behind bars, where he belongs.

As we were conducting the interview, one of Tavares’ fellow officers told us that Det. Tavares is one of the most respected and decorated officers in the department. He has received 30 HQ commendations, an Exceptional Meritorious commendation, and even named Cop of the Year in 1994; these awards are due to his sheer dedication to his job, which has resulted in capturing criminals and solving cases. “There is no doubt that entering this profession requires a level of sacrifice,” Tavares says, as he recalls having to leave his daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party to follow up on a lead. “It is imperative that you have a family who understands and respects the importance of the work you do. You cannot delay following up on a hot lead or a suspect who has just showed up somewhere in public.” Tavar- es spoke very lovingly of his beautiful wife, their four children and grandchild. He has a deep gratitude for the level of support they have provided to him and the department in this demanding and dangerous job. Aside from murders, the homicide squad also investi- gates suicides, drug overdoses and accidental deaths.

imagejpeg950Many of the detectives develop relationships with the victims’ families, keeping in touch and checking in. “Homicide never ends,” Tavares says. Even when a case is closed, a detective’s responsibility for the case and the individuals who were impacted by the crime or incident remains important to them.

Tavares was very solemn when he wholeheartedly declared, “Homicide detectives speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves…that is our responsibility.”

When Tavares does step away from the job, he spends quality time with his family and, as for hobbies, his favorite local teams are the Mets and the Rangers. He’s hoping for a great season.

Thank you, Ron Tavares and the entire Homicide Squad.

We have a new appreciation for the work, role
and commitment of the SCPD Squad.