Monday, March 28, 2005

�Real detectives don�t deduce. We use inductive reasoning. Arriving at a solution that fits all the evidence.�


Following the expansion of police call boxes throughout the city, after a pilot project regarding the use of telephones was found successful, the department adopted several new policies in 1911.

Understanding that the call boxes would be worthless without officers on the street to use them, in 1911 the department adopted several new patrol policies.

The first was the imnplementation of the �three-platoon-system of patrol duty�, which, adopted on June 12, 1911, was passed into law by the State Legislature with the stipulation that future administrations be required to continue this system.

By dividing the total patrol personnel into 12 squads, three squads, or 25 percent of the total personnel would perform duty from 7am to 3pm; a second group of three squads would be on the streets from 3pm to 11pm, while the remaining two squads, or fifty percent of the total patrol force would be on duty from 11pm to 7am. Citing that the system �gives twice the number of men on duty at night, when their services are more required�, officials stated that it would also allow the reserve to be strongest in the day, when crowds were more liable to congregate.

This three-platoon system was implemented along with a new �Stationary Post System�.

By utilizing the entire midnight tour, a large number of officers were assigned to �fixers� at major intersections throughout Manhattan and sections of Brooklyn, while mobile foot posts covered adjoining blocks. With the stationary posts positioned along both the avenues and the streets about four blocks apart, officers assigned to fixers had strict instructions to stay within their intersection, and were not allowed to cross the curb line or connecting crosswalks, except to answer a police call for help.

This system, while found effective in reducing crime, was abandoned in 1914 because besides immobilizing one-half of the entire department, there were not enough officers to cover the fixer posts in all five boroughs.

This saw rise to a new �flash-light� system, whereby the lampposts with police call boxes were equipped with a green light.

Now, when the desk lieutenant wanted an officer to ring-in for instructions or an assignment, a button could be pushed in the precinct which would make the green light, visible for about 1,000 feet, flash.

If a member of the public needed a cop in a hurry, a button on the call box could also be pushed which would steadily light the green lamp. Patrol posts were divided into �flash-light zones�. By 1918, in addition to the lamps, some poles were also fitted with a bell.

In 1924, the City-wide signal box system was completed, with the last four signal boxes installed in Queens.

I found it interesting to note that, by the time the last signal box was installed, the system had already been superseded by the radio. It would not be until 1932 that a one-way Radio Motor Patrol was established, and the first RMP with a two-way system was equipped in 1937. Signal boxes would continue to play a role in communication with the precinct right up until the early 1970�s, when the expansion of the portable radio would replace the signal box as a means of contacting officers in the field.


This past week actor Barney Martin, best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld�s father, Morty, on the popular TV series, died from cancer. He was 82 years old.

What you probably did not know, was that Barney Martin, before a long career as a TV and stage actor, worked for twenty years in the NYPD, and retired as a Detective.

Born March 3, 1923, in the New York City borough of Queens, Martin served as a navigator in the Air Force during World War II before starting a 20-year career as a New York City police detective. Martin showed a talent for making deputy police commissioners laugh during presentations. In the 1950s, he began writing on the side for comedy shows such as ``Name That Tune'' and ``The Steve Allen Show.''

Martin got his start in film when Mel Brooks featured him in �The Producers� in 1968. That role launched Martin into Broadway theater, where he appeared in several musicals, including �South Pacific,� and �The Fantasticks.�

If any readers can provide some info on his NYPD career, please let me know.


Every contact leaves a trace.

This is the principle upon which most of our forensic science analysis is based on. Latent prints developed from surfaces touched; hair and fibers recovered from areas where a person was present; DNA found on weapons handled.


Banks made about $100 billion in profits nationally in 2003, but you'd never know it from the quality of some of their surveillance photos. For years, law enforcers have griped about how unrecognizable photos of robbers make it harder to catch crooks.

The robbery photos taken at Columbus-area banks and sent by the FBI to The Dispatch often are not published because they are too blurry or lack definition. "We do everything we can with the images we get," FBI spokesman Harry Trombitas said, conceding that some leave a lot to be desired.

You can read more about this at:,66946


"Education: Curses in liberal arts, curses in computer science, curses in accounting."
"Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store."
"Personal: Married, 1992 Chevrolet."
"I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse."
"Exposure to German for two years, but many words are not appropriate for business."
"Proven ability to track down and correct erors."
"Personal interests: Donating blood. 15 gallons so far."
"I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely nothing and absolutely no one."
"References: None, I've left a path of destruction behind me."
"Strengths: Ability to meet deadlines while maintaining composer."

�It is not how they died that makes them a hero, but how they lived their lives�.

March 22, 1932 Ptl George Myers, Line of duty injury
March 23, 1986 PO James Holmes, PSA3, Shot-off duty robbery
March 26, 1949 Ptl Anthony Oetheimer, 114 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
March 26, 1992 PO Joseph Alcamo, 100 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
March 27, 1921 Ptl Joseph Connelly, 10 Div, Shot-investigation
March 27, 1944 Ptl Arthur Eggers, Traffic C, Auto accident on patrol
March 28, 1922 Ptl James Baker, 83 Pct, Motorcycle accident
March 31, 1914 Ptl Thomas Wynn, 155 Pct, Arrest-robbery
April 2, 1914 Det Joseph Guarneri, DetDiv, Shot-arrest
April 2, 1930 Ptl Thomas Harnett, 13 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
April 2, 1978 PO Christie Massone and PO Norman Cerullo, 79 Pct, Shot-car stop

Monday, March 21, 2005

�I like homicide detectives. They wear hats. They wear hats so that other law-enforcement people will know they�re homicide�

Elmore Leonard, well known crime fiction writer of such works as BE COOL, PAGAN BABIES, GET SHORTY, KILLSHOT, and many more.


All cell phones made in the last three years are capable of receiving and sending text messages.

Recently, Google announced a new messaging service that will allow you to conduct a reverse phone number search from your cell phone. Here�s how.

It�s called a �short message service�, or SMS in techie speak. Google has acquired a short code to use by persons wanting to query their database.

The short code, which you type in to your �send to� is: 46645

A short code is a universal code used by all cell carriers to identify a specific company or service. This code will work with any cell service that uses text messaging.

To query Google, create a new message on your cell phone and put the short code 46645 in the To: field.

In the body of the message, type the phone number with area code and dashes. Your query should like this: 202-456-1414

Within a minute after sending, you should receive a message from Google giving the name and address of the subscriber. Keep in mind, though, that the phone number results are taken from white and yellow pages, not from the web. It won�t help you find an unlisted number, but may be just what you need while out in the field with no phone book handy.


The NY TIMES on March 6, 1970 noted how more than 2,000 policemen stood at attention as bagpipes sounded, escorting the flag draped coffin of 29-year-old Ptl. Michael Melchiona. The funeral of this Transit Patrolman was one week after his second child�s baptism at the same church.

Patrolman Melchiona was shot at Seventh Ave and 50th Street in the Times Square area by a derelict to whom he had tried to give a summons for smoking in a subway comfort room. The gunman was killed, two other persons were wounded and hundreds of bystanders fled for cover during the shooting spree.

The four-year veteran, while on patrol February 28, 1970 at the 50 Street-Broadway IRT station when he encountered a man in the lavatory. While Melchiona was examining identification, the man drew a gun, removed the officer�s gun and fled with Melchiona in pursuit shouting for help. The gunman shot and killed Melchiona and was himself killed in a shootout that followed.

Patrolman Melchiona�s brother, Henry, also a Transit Police Officer, retired in 1986. Henry Melchiona will be remembered by many Transit cops as the officer at the range who taught them how to shoot.

The Transit Columbia Association annually awarded the Michale Melchiona Medal of Valor to a distinguishing member, for performance in the line of duty.

After the merge of the departments, the Columbia Association continued that practice. I am proud to say that I was a recipient of the Michael Melchiona Medal for Valor in 1982. Readers to Spring 3100 may recall a recent notation that Captain Tim Bugge of Brooklyn North Narcotics was the 2004 Michael Melchiona Medal for Valor recipient.


The cause of much distress unfortunately comes from the bureaucratic philosophy of �We do it that way because we always have�, wouldn�t you agree?

When Tommy Joyce�s 6-year old son visits the Detective Squad Room, looks at a typewriter, and in all seriousness asks �Daddy, What�s that?� you just have to laugh.

Many of us are convinced that there remains only one manufacturer of carbon paper in this country, after all, who uses carbon paper? And that company exists solely on their proceeds from a contract with the NYPD. As I said, who else uses carbon paper?


If you haven�t already done so, you should go to WWW.POLICENY.COM and bookmark this site. Lots of great old-time police cars and department history can be found here.

For example, did you know that the 1950's saw two major changes on department autos:

The �POLICE� roof light was replaced by a revolving red light, and the Department switched to 4 door patrol cars.

The red "Beacon Ray" often referred to as the "turret" or "dome" light, became standard equipment in 1956.

It was in 1958 that we saw 4 door sedans mixed in with the last of the "business coupe" radio cars.

Other changes included 2 door station wagons known as a "sedan delivery" replacing the 2 door REP coupes and experimental vehicles such as Jeeps being added to the patrol fleet.


The sign on the facade of the old 73rd Precinct, on East NY Ave near Rockaway, reads "65 Precinct".

The 65th Precinct, under the Brooklyn Police Department, was abolished in the 1920's, and the precinct was changed to the current 73 Precinct.

Did you know that it was this precinct front that was used as TV's fictional "Naked City" precinct?


The following are excerpts from actual DD5 reports.

�We went to the door looking for the perp. We knocked, there was no answer. We knocked hard, then we knocked really really hard. There was still no answer�.

�I spoke to the doctor in the hospital. He said the victim�s condition was very very bad.�

�The witness stated she could not identify the perp, but that she would be able to identify the dog. Because we have no photos of dogs for an array request this case be closed.�


For everyone who has ever had an evaluation - just remember, it could havebeen worse. These are actual quotes taken from Federal Government employeeperformance evaluations.

"Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and hasstarted to dig."

"Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in atrap."

"When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet."

"This young lady has delusions of adequacy."

"He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."

"This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."

"This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better."

"He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier."

"He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room."

�It is not how they died that makes them a hero, but how they lived their lives�.

March 22, 1932 Ptl George Myers, Line of duty injury
March 23, 1986 PO James Holmes, PSA3, Shot-off duty robbery
March 26, 1949 Ptl Anthony Oetheimer, 114 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
March 26, 1992 PO Joseph Alcamo, 100 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
March 27, 1921 Ptl Joseph Connelly, 10 Div, Shot-investigation
March 27, 1944 Ptl Arthur Eggers, Traffic C, Auto accident on patrol
March 28, 1922 Ptl James Baker, 83 Pct, Motorcycle accident
March 31, 1914 Ptl Thomas Wynn, 155 Pct, Arrest-robbery

Monday, March 14, 2005


In case you thought it was just in New York, it�s not.

The validity of police lineups continues to come under scrutiny, as the standard of eyewitness identification is questioned by many in the legal profession.

Backed up by psychological studies, it is more an more becoming the norm that an eyewitness identification is one of the LEAST reliable factors in identifying the guilty perpetrator.

This issue is now being addressed in Illinois, where three jurisdictions are testing the blind lineup and the sequential lineup procedure versus the traditional standing lineup.
Illinois is testing this identification method in an effort to determine whether it is helpful in avoiding the falsely imprisoning of people.

In a February 8, 2005 article in NEWSDAY, it was reported that a pilot study is under way since last fall, in which these different ways of conducting lineups, that some say could sharply reduce the number of false identifications, is being tested in Chicago, Evanston and Joliet.

There are numerous researchers who advocate another approach, the "sequential" lineup, where suspects are brought in one at a time so witnesses can examine each individually.

As was reported on this site almost three years ago, this procedure is already used in New Jersey and with half a dozen police departments across the country. Another alternative procedure, the �blind lineup�, is often written into court orders for lineups in New York City, at the request of the defense attorney. When so written in the court order, there is no choice on the part of law enforcement, and they have been conducted here.

"Psychologically, it's a very different experience," one of the defense attorney advocates has noted. "With the [traditional lineup] it's a relative judgment process that leads to the identification rather than what we're after, which is true recognition."

Mistaken identification--which was a factor in more than 75 percent of the 155 DNA exonerations across the country since 1989, according to the Innocence Project � is believed, can be cut in half or more with sequential lineups.

We are sure to see much discussion, and procedural questions, in this area.


The ability to extract DNA from a fingerprint has been under discussion, and this ability should prove very promising to investigators.

As the area of eyewitness identifications come under consistent questioning and scrutiny, it is the forensic evidence that the public � and the legal community � want to see more of. As an investigator, I�m sure we�d all like to see more forensic evidence � that lack of which is continually questioned, for sure.

While we continue to wait months for DNA test results, I found it quite interesting to learn of a new procedure being utilized in Canada that can prove to be extremely valuable and helpful.

In an article that originally was published in July of 2003, Canadian scientists have developed a technique to extract DNA from fingerprints in 15 minutes.
The team of scientists at the Ottawa University Heart Institute were capable of consistently extracting 10 nanograms of DNA from a single fingerprint. The new extraction technique is under patent and is considerably less expensive than previous time consuming techniques.

Further research is still needed to determine how well the process works in various environments involving humidity and temperature conditions as well as from various substrates.

The fact that this testing is underway provides some hope that we can see turnaround time on DNA testing here in NYC brought in line with required investigative expectations.

Perhaps some day the Medical Examiner�s DNA Lab will be completed and fully functional, staffed properly to provide the needed test results. We can only hope.

To see the full story on this DNA test of fingerprints, check out this site.

Full Story at Florida Division of IAI Website


I�ve written previously about the Police Recreation Centre, better known by anyone that had the opportunity to visit, as the Police Camp.

A new web site has been found, by the current owner of that site, that provides some background and quite a number of historic photos.

A little history is note from the website. In 1921 the New York City Police Department built a resort hotel near Tannersville, New York. About 1 year later this hotel burned to the ground. This was not the end however.

In 1922, the hotel was rebuilt in a 3-story brick and stucco structure. For the next 60 years this resort was the establishment of countless happy memories of NYPD families and friends getting together for a week in the Catskill Mountains.

Many see this time as the happiest moments of their lives. It was a chance to be up in the mountains, away from the city with all the wonders of nature coupled with modern conveniences like a movie theater and casino. It provided a safe environment for the family � surrounded by all NYPD MOS, a sense of safety for your children was felt by many. Everyone looked after one another. It also provided a relatively modest cost for a policeman�s family to get away �to the mountains� for a week.

In 1983, after a failed attempt to revitalize the Police Recreation Center, it was closed, seemingly, for good. For eight years the Center remained unoccupied, and little by little began falling into disrepair.

A group called the Bruderhof bought the complex in 1990 and moved in. After much hard work the former Recreation Center began to take on its original captivating beauty. Today about 350 people, old and young, live and work together. They support themselves with a business making equipment for the handicapped as well as for daycare centers and schools.

You can check out the site at:


The following mind-boggling attempt at a crime spree in Washington appeared to be the robber's first (and last), due to his lack of a previous record of violence, and his terminally stupid choices:

1. His target was H&J Leather & Firearms, a gun shop specialising in handguns.
2. The shop was full of customers - firearms customers.
3. To enter the shop, the robber had to step around a marked police car parked at the front door.
4. A uniformed officer was standing at the counter, having coffee before work.

Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up, and fired a few wild shots from a .22 target pistol. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, the police officer with a 9mm Glock 17, the clerk with a .50 Desert Eagle, assisted by several customers who also drew their guns, several of whom also fired.

The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics. Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7 different weapons.

No one else was hurt in the exchange of fire.


I found it interesting to note the following crime statistics.

In 1990, 2,245 were murdered; in 2004, there were 566 murders citywide.

In 1990, 147,123 cars were stolen; in 2004, auto thefts in the city totaled 21,848.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation now considers New York the country�s safest big city.

Some people might consider this to be a result of good policing. While many like to broadcast how safe the city has become, how tourism has benefited, and hotel occupancy continues to remain high, there are few who seem to give any credit to the men and women of the police department who have worked at this.


It was been 25 Years since PO Irving Smith, and PO Seraphin "Sammy" Calabrese, of the Transit Police Department, were killed in the Line of Duty.

On February 28, 1980, P.O. Irving Smith was gunned down a day after attending the funeral of PO Sammy Calabrese.

Officer Smith, a divorced father of two, had been on the force for 12 years. He was killed only a day after the burial of Seraphin Calabrese, a 34 year-old transit policeman who was fatally shot with his own gun after he tried to arrest a man who had jumped a subway turnstile and disarmed him with a karate kick.

According to the police account, Officer Smith, wearing civilian clothes, was in Club477, a bar at 477 Rogers Avenue in the Crown Heights section, when the holdup occurred at 1:30 A.M. The bar is near his home at 162 Maple Street. A man who had been drinking quietly with a male companion at the bar suddenly drew a .38 caliber revolver and leaped onto a small stage used by performers at the club and announced a holdup. The man was later identified as Rudolph Brown, 26, of 346 Lincoln Road in the Prospect Park section.

His companion, brandishing a knife with a nine-inch blade, vaulted the bar and moved toward the cash register. His name was later given as Leslie Burgess, 28, of 358 Lincoln Road.

Mr. Brown reportedly told the 12 customers present to place their valuables on the bar and lie on the floor. Some witnesses said Officer Smith then drew his gun and identified himself as an officer. Almost instantly, there was an exchange of gunfire; Officer Smith was hit by two of the five shots fired at him.

Officer Smith fired six rounds from his off-duty gun, striking Mr. Brown in the head, neck and chest. Mr. Burgess, though hit in the chest, was able to flee. Officer Smith and Mr. Brown were later pronounced dead on arrival at Kings County Hospital.

Thirty minutes later, a man fitting the description of the second hold-up man arrived at St. Mary's Hospital for treatment and was quickly placed under arrest.

And this was only 2 days after PO Oscar Soto of District 32 was seriously wounded in Brooklyn. Welcome to the 1980's�. in the first 8 weeks of the new decade 10 police officers had been shot within the city, four of them were killed. An unbelievable statistic and if you were on the job at the time, it was certain to lead everyone with a shield into the mindset that they were being besieged and it was a war on the streets.

(Thank you, Sgt Mike Fanning, for providing info on this.)


The influenza was one of the two factors resulting in the wholesale decimation of the ranks of the NYPD in October of 1918.

At the time the department operated the ambulance service for NYC. One called the local precinct for a bus (ambulance).

The desk officer kept a log similar to the one kept for today's ROTOW program, only for doctors. A patrolman was dispatched with a horse drawn NYPD patrol wagon to pick up a local doctor and response to the residence of the aided. The unlucky patrolman would then have the responsibility of delivering the aided to the hospital (or morgue as appropriate) and return the doctor to his residence.

The second other major factor for the decimation of the ranks of NYC police officers in October of 1918 was the Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I. Hundreds of NYPD patrolmen joined the 29th Infantry Division to fight in France under the buddy system, where members of a precinct could join together to fight together.

As a result of the Meuse-Argonne carnage, many brave NYC police officers made the ultimate sacrificed. As a result of these October 1918 loses the department for the first time issued an order that one could not join the military without the expressed writtenpermission of the police commissioner.

(Thanks to NYPD Historian, Retired Det Mike Bosak, for this information).


Those who have joined the corporate sector may find the following of interest.

It appears that it pays to invest in security.

A recent study called �Prospering in the Secure Economy� conducted by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP found that investment in corporate security leads to real, measurable business benefits including cost reduction, enhanced revenue, reduced risk and brand protection. Recent government security initiatives and new legislation mean that a wide range of industries are upgrading their security functions.

Investing in security � though costly � is essential and must be integrated into a company�s operational planning, the survey suggests.

By doing so the private sector can safeguard critical infrastructure and vulnerable supply chains while maximizing shareholder value.


The day has come. Det Nick Dimonda, of the 77 Squad, has retired.

Nicky was always quite a colorful character. It is safe to say that he will be missed by many. I can honestly say that anytime Nicky left a room, he left a mark there. Most likely he left people smiling, maybe even laughing. He is the kind of detective that keeps a squad room jumping, makes it fun to be at work.

I can recall many a time after a conversation with Nick about one or another investigative issues, when I said to myself � or anyone else that may have been there at the time � Does he really think I believe that?

By his own account, the one area where he will surely not be missed is at Fleet Services.

According to Nicky, his eighteen auto accidents with department autos over the past twenty odd years is probably a record � and as he officially comes �off the books� he is willing to admit that not one � not any � of those actually happened exactly as they have been thought to. Does anyone find that startling?

I recall the accident he had while in Kings North Warrants, when the double parked auto jumped out of �Park� and coasted into a parked auto. Apparently a manufacturers defect.

We won�t even begin to mention the large stuffed wild animal incident, in Brooklyn South PMD, will we?

Yes, a colorful character for sure.

Many of his close friends gathered recently at Two Tom�s to bid him a fond farewell, wishing him a happy retirement. (Perhaps it was just one or two friends, and a gathering of other people who couldn�t pass up on the four-inch thick pork chops?)

Anyway, more on the retirement gathering at another time.

For now, we wish to extend our deepest thanks for having the opportunity to have worked with you. Good luck, Nickyyyyyyyyy.


March 9, 1948 PO Julius Mirell, 34 Pct, Shot-burglary
March 9, 1974 PO Timothy Hurley, 103 Pct, Shot-robbery
March 10, 1917 Ptl Deforest Fredenburg & Ptl John Lober, No information available
March 10, 1994 PO Sean McDonald, 44 Pct, Shot-Robbery
March 11, 1930 Ptl Joseph Scott, 32 Pct, auto accident on patrol
March 11, 1947 Ptl Winthrop Paris, 30 Pct, Shot-Investigation, off duty
March 11, 1959 Ptl Robert Forrest, 24 Pct, Off duty LOD heart attack
March 11, 1987 Det Louis Miller, FTU10, Shot-Burglary in progress
March 12, 1909 Lt Joseph Petrosino, Det Div; Shot � Investigation in Italy
March 12, 1931 Ptl James Flanagan, 25 Pct, Shot- off duty investigation
March 14, 1872 Det Phillip Lambreck, 19 Pct, Assaulted
March 14, 1967 Det John Pollins, Narc, Arrest- narcotics buy/bust
March 14, 1996 PO Kevin Gillespie, SCU, Shot � investigation
March 15, 1922 Ptl James McMail, 85 Pct, Assaulted during arrest
March 15, 1930 Ptl Walter DeCastillo, 84 Pct, Shot- robbery in progress
March 15, 1934 Ptl Philip Clarius, 78 Pct, Shot � robbery in progress
March 15, 1936 Ptl Dioniso Pasquarella, 75 Pct, Shot � off duty altercation
March 16, 1940 Ptl Francis Dolan, 10 Pct, Fell from auto
March 17, 1956 Ptl George Lessler, 10 Pct, LOD heart attack
March 18, 1926 Ptl William Higgins, 13 Div, LOD injury
March 18, 1948 Ptl John Casey, 20 Pct, LOD injury
March 18, 1972 Ptl Elijah Stroud, 80 Pct, Shot � robbery
March 19, 1943 Ptl James Donovan, 75 Pct, Shot � investigation, off duty
March 20, 1804 Ptl Hugh Enright, 24 Pct, Shot- burglary arrest
March 20, 1963 Ptl John Tuohy, TD2, Heart attack chasing felon