Suffolk County, NY – Suffolk County Police Officer Fadi Rafeh died unexpectedly while off-duty on Sunday.
The cause of the 38-year-old officer’s death was undetermined as of Tuesday, Newsday reported.
"The untimely passing of police officer Fadi Rafeh is an unbelievably tragic loss to his young family and an incredible loss to our police family," Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) Chief Stuart Cameron told the Port Jefferson Patch.
"Fadi Rafeh exemplified the diversity that makes our department great, having been born of Lebanese immigrants and serving as an Arabic translator for our department,” Chief Cameron added. “I ask the public to join the members of our department in keeping his family in their thoughts and prayers."
Officer Rafeh entered the police academy in June of 2010, and was assigned to the Fifth Precinct for his entire career, Newsday reported.
He first served as a patrol officer in Bellport and Patchogue.
In October of 2017, he became an investigator for the Fifth Precinct’s Crime Section, and was about to recommended for a promotion to the rank of detective, Suffolk County Police Lieutenant Michael Alfano told Newsday.
“Right away, he began picking up cases and investigating them and just did a great job, from day one,” Lt. Alfano said. “He was a natural leader back here…he was always willing to help out in any way that he could….[and] you could always rely on [him] to get the job done.”
Although it is always difficult to lose a member of the police department, Officer Rafeh’s death has been “especially difficult,” Suffolk County Commissioner Geraldine Hart told Newsday.
“He had so much to offer to the men and women he served with and was making a difference in the lives of Suffolk County residents,” Hart explained. “Officer Rafeh will be remembered for his dedication to the SCPD. Our thoughts are with his wife, two boys and his family and friends.”
For SCPD Officer Joseph Esposito, Officer Rafeh wasn’t only a coworker – he was a childhood friend.
“He was the big brother I never had,” Officer Esposito said.
Officer Rafeh’s partner, Officer Dan Hogan, said that his sudden death came as a complete “shock to everybody.”
“Seeing his desk and his locker — it’s shocking, it’s devastating. We probably haven’t even fully grasped it yet, as a precinct,” he said. “I don’t even have the right words.”
He described Officer Rafeh as an “ambitious cop” who loved the action of “looking for bad guys,” Newsday reported.
Officer Rafeh was also well-known for being a mentor for younger officers, and made it a point to organize events to build camaraderie within the ranks.
"Officer Rafeh was a role model to younger officers who were fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and serve beside him in the Police Department," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "He loved his job, he loved his family, and we are deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss."
Officer Rafeh leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, as well as his sons, 5-year-old Nicholas and 3-year-old Benjamin.
A fundraising page has been established to help Officer Rafeh’s family in the wake of their sudden loss.
“Everyone who knew him, knew that his family was number one and always came first,” the page read. “Your friends and blue family will forever take care of your wife and boys. We will ensure that the many memories you left them are forever close to their hearts.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Suffolk County Police Officer Fadi Rafeh, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.