May 22nd, 2019– The 5th Ave. bridge over the Southern State Parkway was renamed the Detective John E. Thomas Sr. Memorial Bridge in honor of the late detective. The Bay Shore native, who previously served in the United States Navy during WWII, began his career in law enforcement in the Brightwaters Police Department, and was the first African American policeman in the Suffolk County Police Department. Among Det. Thomas' many accolades, was his heroism for rescuing two young children from a burning house where 5 people perished. He was subsequently named Policeman of the Year and was promoted to Detective. Det. Thomas worked in the Community Relations Bureau in the Bay Shore community.
Following his retirement from the police department, John E. Thomas, Sr. became the Director of Security, of the Bay Shore School District for more than a decade.
"The legacy of Det. John E. Thomas Sr. will live on for generations to come through this bridge renaming," said Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. "He was a pioneer, a family man and a pillar of the Bay Shore community," she concluded.