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Jul 12, 2016 3:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecock Nation Member Becomes First Native American To Complete Civilian Police Academy

Rae Horton
Jul 13, 2016 9:44 AM

A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation last month became the first Native American to complete the Suffolk County Civilian Police Academy.

Rae Horton, who would share her age only as “almost 70,” said she became interested when she happened to see a photograph of last year’s graduating class in a newspaper. Based on her family’s ties to law enforcement, she decided to give it a try herself: “I have lawyers and policemen and State Troopers in my family, so I said, ‘Let me see what this is all about and see where I can go with this.”

She took a look at a list of classes and was instantly sold on applying to the free program, which explains how the County Police force works.

“Terrorist profiles? I said, ‘That sounds good to me.’ Tour the police communications? ‘Sounds good to me,’” she said.

Ms. Horton, who lives on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, did not give a thought as to whether she might be the only Native American to go through the three-month program in Brentwood. “When I applied for the academy, I didn’t know I was the only Native American. I just thought, ‘Hey, everybody goes to the academy if they want to,’” she said.

It was not until one of the last classes of the program that she found out. Every week, Ms. Horton would bring snacks for the group, and she was offered an award for her generosity. One of her instructors, Suffolk County Police Officer Mitch Savino, had noticed her bringing snacks and asked her why was doing it.

“It’s our native tradition, that in our presence, you never go hungry,” she told Officer Savino, who discovered that way that she was the first Native American to complete the course.

Officer Savino said that the academy has great diversity among its students, as it strives to represent all of the county’s communities. With Ms. Horton in the class, the academy was introduced to the Shinnecock Nation, which Officer Savino said he hopes will continue to be represented in future courses. “It was an area of the community that was kind of underserved,” he said.

Ms. Horton said she believes everyone should try to go to the academy given recent police shootings such as the ones in Louisiana and Minnesota that have been at the center of the country’s attention. “You may not agree with it, but you can understand, at least try to understand, why these shootings came down,” she said.

Her training gave her new insight into situations officers face in the field. She took part in firearms simulation training, which she said helped her better understand why they may choose to fire their weapons. In one simulation, she was 1 second too slow to fire her gun, which meant she would have lost her life, she said.

Other sessions included CPR certification, a lesson about the gangs of Long Island, an introduction to search and seizure laws, a class on use of force and a ride-along in a patrol car.

Ms. Horton will pass along what she learned to the rest of Shinnecock community to help bridge a gap between them and the State Police, who respond to any calls on the reservation. She will also bring what she learned to discussions about the idea of establishing a Justice Center on the reservation.

“I will be here to be that little piece of sponge in between, and say, ‘This is this, this is that,’ and kind of calm it down,” she said this week.

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What an inspiration this woman is for so many different reasons.
By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Jul 15, 16 10:43 AM
2 members liked this comment
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jul 15, 16 12:20 PM
Congratulation !!

By BessieSanders (1), Fayette, Mississippi on Jul 15, 16 1:25 PM
Great article!! Congratulations to Ms. Horton. I would love to do this.
By Ocean Lady (16), Southampton on Jul 15, 16 7:59 PM
The next class is not until March 2017 but if they get an influx of applications there would be one in October. Go to the Suffolk County Civilian Academy website, you can download the application.
By adczeta (78), southampton on Jul 16, 16 6:35 AM