Former Southampton Town Police Chief James P. Overton, a Westhampton Beach resident who retired after two decades of leading the largest police department on the East End, died on January 13. He was 78.
J.O., as Overton was known for short, was born January 7, 1945 in Riverhead and grew up in Westhampton Beach, where he graduated Westhampton Beach High School in 1963. He later served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1967, where he was the recipient of many commendations, and joined the police department upon his return to Long Island, spending 44 years in the agency.
“We thank him for his service and we send our prayers to the family and friends of Chief Overton,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said while leading a moment of silence for Overton at the town board meeting on January 24.
After Overton joined the department as a police officer in 1967, he became a detective in 1972 and a sergeant two years later. He then became the department’s first detective sergeant in 1976 after the detective squad was formed, Schneiderman said. Then in 1979 he made lieutenant, two years later was named captain and in 1991 was appointed chief, a position the top cop held until he retired in 2011.
Overton also served as a member of the Westhampton Beach School Board of Education and coached many of the local youth in Pop Werner Football, Little League and the Police Athletic League.
Overton was predeceased by his parents Audrey and William Overton and his two brothers William “Bo” Overton and Michael Overton. He is survived by his wife of 56 years Evelyn and their three daughters, Lisa Overton and her husband Charlie LeBrun, Amy Gwinn and her husband Gerard “Jerry” Gwinn, and Jamie Walsh and her husband Michael Walsh.
He is also survived by five grandchildren, Gerard “Jerry” Gwinn III, Reilly Gwinn, Marcus LeBrun, Olivia Walsh and Reagan Walsh.
He was interred on January 18 following a graveside service at Westhampton Cemetery.