Monday, April 23, 2007


Readers will recall my postings concerning the Police Camp, an upstate retreat in the Catskills that saw many police families during the 50’s & 60’s find a relaxing week in the country.

If you were there, you remember!

A reader contributed the following memories of this place.

He recalled enjoying the Police camp and the fun he had on vacation there as a kid.
The things he remembered the most about the police camp was how the first day or two you were usually bored because you didn’t know anyone, but by the time to go home you’d be having such a great time that you didn’t want to leave. Memories of hunting for snakes, frogs and lizards down by the creek were always impressionable to a “city-kid”.

The dining hall staff always had a weekly softball game against the guests that always saw a huge turnout – and could usually be counted on to provide some sore aches for those who should have known better than to play against a bunch of college kids!

There was always the summertime romance that a week away in the country could provide! Remember the Peppermint Lounge? How about the A-frame hall that was built, as the site of many a dance night?
I remember the garage that housed a fire truck – that I never actually saw get used – that was also used as the movie theater, and the church on Sundays. The pool that always seemed so big as a kid, and was always ice cold, provided a lot of summer recreation as well.

A recent visit upstate by a reader noted that he took a drive to the camp with his family to show them the site of so much fond memories. He met the people that took over the site. The people at first weren’t so friendly until he told them he had stayed there as a kid; they asked if he was a policeman, then they became very nice and spoke to them about themselves. A religious group now owns the land, and they manufacture products for handicapped children. The group made some changes to the place and all live together in the main house.
I thank Chris Massaria for his contributions, and encourage others with Police Camp memories to pass them on.

Remember the box-lunch day-trips to Howes Caverns, the Catskill Game Farm, and Hunter Mountain? The music playing over the loudspeaker all day? The daily raising, and lowering, of the American flag at the main hotel?


In the early history of the department, it was the detectives that were assigned to the Central Office (Headquarters) who were the first to carry a gold-plated shield.

The Central Office Detectives performed the investigative functions of the department.
Back in the 1930’s, there were approximately 300 Detectives in the department, performing citywide investigative functions.

The local precincts had Plainclothes Men who performed duty in – you guessed it, plainclothes! These officers were selected by the precinct Captain, and detailed on “temporary” duty in civilian clothes to enforce gambling, prostitution, and other vice offenses.

The public, who then – and still – calls anyone who works in civilian clothing a Detective, often got these tasks mistaken. It was the Detective who had the Gold Shield!


A daily roundup of professional crooks was performed each day at Police Headquarters, and was a staple of the department up until the early 1960’s.

This roundup, and parade of all those arrested the previous day, was known as The Lineup.

Detectives were sent from throughout the city to observe this lineup each morning.

On a raised platform, the crooks walked by, so that the detectives could review their peculiarities, characteristics, and their criminal MO.

It was known as a simple and effective system for familiarizing detectives with the personal appearance, voice, mannerisms, physical attributes and defects of the criminal.


It was in 1906 that Colonel Arthur Woods was appointed a Deputy Commissioner, and designated to reorganize the Detective Bureau.

One of the first moves he made was to create a Homicide Squad.

Up to that time there was no specialization in investigations, and no specialized training. Cases were assigned to Detectives not in any rotation, but according to a particular aptitude one might have.

After organizing the Homicide Squad, other specialized commands soon followed. Pickpocket, Safe & Loft, Narcotics, Missing Persons, and the Radical Squad all soon followed.


As he noted in his autobiography, New York Detective, which he penned in 1938, Ernest Van Wagner had a rather interesting introduction to working at Police Headquarters.

Coming on the job in 1896, he spent 36 years here and retired in 1932 as an Inspector, Commanding Officer of Detectives.

Teddy Roosevelt immediately saw good use of Van Wagner, even while he was still attending recruit training.

You see, Van Wagner came on the job with an unusual skill – amanuensis.

The Dean of the Academy thought this was a disease, and called him down to the office shortly after his training started. The Dean learned otherwise – this meant that he could write shorthand!

Van Wagner went right into Headquarters, working for Roosevelt and other high ranking members of the department, taking notes for them utilizing his knowledge of shorthand.

It was the experience he gained working for the executive staff that helped propel him through the ranks, to eventually become the department’s Chief Detective.

All because he was an amanuensis!


Exculpatory: Evidence and/or statements which tend to clear, justify, or excuse a defendant from alleged fault or guilt. (“I didn’t do it”).

Inculpatory: Evidence and/or statements, that which tends to incriminate or bring about a criminal conviction. Holds responsible for criminal misconduct. (“I did it”).


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BEEF: to betray another, or for a victim to make a fuss over his loss.

BELCH: same as beef.

BIT: a prison or jail term.

BOOK: pocketbook.

BULL: a policeman.

BULL-OUT-OF-HARNESS: a plain-clothes man.

CADGER: a beggar. (Cadging: begging)

CALL THE TURN: said of a criminal after a detective has identified him.

ELBOW: detective.

FLY-COP: a detective.

FRONT OFFICE: police headquarters.

HOLLER: to tell or report to the police.

MOLL: a girl.

MOLL-BUZZER: a pickpocket who robs only women.

MOUTH-PIECE: a thief paid by the police for information; also a criminal lawyer.

PERCENTAGE COPPERS: policemen who protect thieves for a percentage of their plunder.

PETER: a safe.

PETERMEN: safe-blowers.

PORCH-CLIMBER: second-story workers.

SPOT: a term in prison; Ten spot = 10 years.

SWAG: plunder other than money (as jewelry, etc.)

SWEAT-BOX: the third degreeTHIMBLE: a watch.

YEGG-MEN: tramp thieves.


Some detectives make a noticeable impact when they arrive. Just ask Johnny K, who made an impression on his arrival at the scene of a Homicide-CUPPI in the 77 recently… Retired sleuth Nicky Dimonda was around town recently. He’s been working a security job in the 23 – his old stomping grounds from patrol. Anytime Nicky and Vito get together is sure to produce a memorable event!... How’s Larry doing with the “Reality Tour” events?... The addition of a pet gecko to a squad room brought back memories of Larry walking around with a pet alligator in his pocket; or the time(s) he came in with a frog in his jacket. Larry, we surely miss you!... Which Detective recently found himself being kicked out of a motorcycle club he helped to form?... Is that just another example of “not wanting to be a member of a club that would have me as a member”?... Was that Ret Det Joe Guerra seen on recent news footage of the Don Imus incident? Seems that Joe has been working for Bo Dietl, and was guarding Don Imus. You look good, Joe… By the way, did Joe have to drive Imus around? … Great turnout at the recent 83 Squad retirement function. Lots of retirees came out to join brothers and sisters alike. Always good to see everyone at these “happy” events. Same to be said for the recent dinner honoring a great man, Joseph F.X. Cunneen. Wonderful turnout for a truly honorable man! Good luck in all you do, Chief! … Has anyone ever seen Insp Joe Campbell without a smile?... Who remembers when a certain squad commander was used as a speed bump to slow down someone trying to hot-foot it out of the cells in the 77 Precinct?? …


The Annual Antique Police Car Show will be at the Police Museum on Saturday and Sunday, June 9th and 10th.

Also at the Police Museum, on May 16, starting at 6PM, will be a book signing and presentation by the author of the new book (and most recent addition to The Minister’s True Crime Book Collection) BOMB SQUAD: A Year Inside The Nation’s Most Exclusive Police Force.

Authors Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein had exclusive access to the Bomb Squad starting on December 31, 2003. They will be joined by members of the Bomb Squad to discuss their work, and this new book.

Brooklyn North sleuth’s will certainly enjoy the passages from Retired Inspector Charlie Wells’ time in the Bomb Squad.

My suggestion is to get a copy of the book. I’ll be bringing mine, and have already told Charlie I’m leaving a spot for him to sign!

The Police Museum is at 100 Old Slip, between Water & South Streets.

Admission is free to MOS.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A good motto to live by: “Under promise, and over deliver”.


Hard to believe, but there are many who don’t know of – or who haven’t seen – an episode of Kojak!

Who, exactly, is Kojak? What about his boss, Inspector McNeil?

Lieutenant Theo Kojak is the famed television detective squad commander of 1970’s television stardom. The show ran from October 24, 1973 through April 1978, a total of 115 one-hour televison episodes.

The storyline for the series is as follows.

When they started out together in the New York Police Department, Theo Kojak and Frank McNeil had worked closely together and, for a number of years, been partners.

Over the years Frank had worked his way up the hierarchy to the point where he was now Chief of detectives for Manhattan South. Kojak, who had a cynical sense of humor and was determined to do things his way regardless of what his bosses thought, was nowworking for him. Kojak commanded a detective squad in Manhattan South, believed to be that of the Midtown South command, but one that pretty much took place all over south Manhattan (never Brooklyn!).

Kojak was outspoken and streetwise, and was not above stretching the literal interpretation of the law if it would help him crack a case.

Working closely with him was Detective Bobby Crocker, as close to a regular partner as he had.

The supporting role of Detective Stavros was played by Telly Savalas' brother, George, who, during the first two seasons of the show, was billed as Demosthenes in thecredits rather than his real name. Considerable on-location filming was done in New York with Kojak seen all over the city licking his trademark lollipops.

Kevin Dobson played Detective Crocker, with Dan Frazer playing Inspector McNeil.

Beginning life as an award winning 1973 TV Movie “The Marcus-Nelson Murders”, which was based on the true life Wylie-Hoffert case, and played with charismatic charm by long established movie actor Telly Savalas as the New York cop with a penchant for sucking lollipops, the series went for a graphic 'street level' realism which turned it into an instant top-ten hit in it's first season.

Lt. Kojak was a tough cop with a smart mouth and wits even sharper than his top flight dress sense. “Who luv’s, ya – baby” was his famous catchphrase.

The series was a global hit and even after it's five year run it was brought back in a succession of television movies, the last being made in 1989. By this time Theo Kojak had been promoted to the rank of Inspector.

The show continues to play on cable channels, and is still a hit worldwide. A box set of DVD’s is also available (yes, I already have it!).


I’ve noted previously on this site the evolution in hand-held investigative technology, including a hand-held document scanner.

This following scanner, reviewed recently on another investigative web-site, is billed as a “lawyer’s dream” – but can just as easily be considered the same for any investigator seeking to have the ability to scan and download documents from the field.

The new Planon Docupen RC800 scanner is a lawyer's – and investigators - dream magic wand.
It is the size of a fat ball point pen, except that it is 8 1/2 inches long, but don't let its svelte size fool you. This is a complete color scanner, that you drag over a document, book or magazine, and can hold up to 100 letter sized pages in its built-in memory.

The really cool feature of this new pen scanner, however, is that it has a Micro-SD card slot, which holds external memory. The memory door on top of the docupen is a little tough to remove, but once you do, there is infinite storage available. Carry this in your pocket, and the built-in rechargeable battery is enough to give you scanning capability anywhere.

Once you get back, just plug the USB 2.0 cable in, and the included software downloads the scanned images. The Docupen comes with PaperPort SE for document filing and handling. The software bundle makes this a bargain at $299. Many of you will want to throw one of these in the briefcase. You will never have to say "email it to me again".


A recent movie to hit the screens (it may already have ran it’s course, and soon-to-be available on DVD) focused on the infamous Zodiac killer from California.

The movie is about this most extraordinary serial killer who appeared to have no modus operandi, no pattern in the victims he chose, and left few traces at murder scenes.

Who was the man behind the cryptic ciphers – who was the real Zodiac?

Well, one early morning waking up to the late-night television set that was left on, I was greeted by the face of none other than Det1 (Ret) Louis Savarese – discussing the New York City Zodiac killer.

New York’s Zodiac killer a mystery to you? Check out the full story on the following site:


A recent inquiry by a loyal reader had me – and my sources – checking out some facts concerning the “Serpico” case. The following information may be of interest to you.

The location of Patrolman Frank Serpico’s drug bust that resulted in his being shot was at
778 Drigs Ave, within the confines of the 90 Precinct. This five-story multiple dwelling building is identified by the name “NOVELTY COURT”. It took place at Apt# 3-G, on Wednesday, February 3, 1971.

The narcotics team consisted of Serpico, along with his partners Ptl Gary Roteman, and Ptl Arthur Cesare. The fourth member of the team, Ptl Paul Halley, had earlier made an arrest of a drug buyer from the apartment, and remained in the car with that prisoner as Serpico and the other 2 plainclothes narcotics patrolmen went upstairs for the dealer.

The dealer they went to arrest was known as “Mambo”, real name of Edgar Echevaria.

Ptl. Serpico was shot in head as he attempted to enter the apartment, with his partners, to effect the arrest of the dealer. After being shot – remember, there were no portable radios, or cell phones at the time – a call went in from a building tenant reporting “shots fired”.

Roteman went to an apt in the bldg to call for an ambulance; he said that he stated he was a cop, and a cop was shot. The radio job failed to mention that. Cesare went outside to get an ambulance.

Uniformed MOS responded to a 10-10 job; they took Serpico in a radio car to Greenpoint Hospital.

The shooter escaped out a window, and was later caught at a female friends apartment where detectives had be conducting a stake-out for him. The arresting officer was Ptl Maxwell Katz, who shot the perp in the stomach.

At the time of his arrest Mambo possessed the 22 cal pistol he used to shoot Serpico, as well as Serpico’s 38 cal 2-inch revolver, which he had picked up after Serpico dropped it after he was shot. Serpico had been able to fire one round from that gun.

A question regarding who the Patrolman was that drove Serpico to the hospital has resulted in the following answer. Remember, this is entirely “unverified”, but appears to be as best we can know at this time. (If you think otherwise, please e-mail and let me know!).

It is believed that a young Patrolman named John Stendrini drove Serpico to Greenpoint Hospital. This is supposedly the same John Stendrini who retired as a DI from TARU, and became Chief of Staff to Ed Norris in Baltimore.

Ptl. Roteman and Cesare were awarded an Exceptional Merit award, as was Ptl Maxwell Katz.

In May, 1971 Serpico was promoted to Detective. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Spring of 1972. He retired by June, 1972, still suffering from his gunshot wounds. His command at the time of retirement is noted as Detective Division, Narcotics Brooklyn South.

I thank Vincent Henry, of LIU’s Homeland Security Institute, for his input to these facts. And I hope Insp (Ret) O’Brian will excuse me for the delay in trying to answer his inquiry – while at the same time I wish him all the best!


Following item is from an anonymous author, described only as a “Chicago Detective”.

While the city may be different, I think you will all see the analogy to New York.

“This is my first time posting, so please be gentle. I am a homicide detective who works in Chicago. I've doing it for several years. I can think of roughly a dozen cases in the last three years that wrapped up in a nice tidy package. Until this year, the unit I work in averaged about 170 murders a year. I usually have knowledge directly or indirectly of about 50 of those murders, so the numbers of nice tidy packages are probably greater. Believe it or not, people do confess. Unlike the nonsense you read in the papers, physical abuse is not used and is not effective. Physical coercion will only "lose" the offender. Creating a bond between the detective and offender is what is needed to gain a confession.

Hours are spent at the start trying to establish this bond. You just have to read the guy and go with what works. You might become his dad, or his priest, or his "homey". Like anything else, some detectives are masters at getting confessions and some suck. Most are someplace in the middle.

The offender usually confesses in stages. It usually starts with "I don't know nothing". After several hours of denials and bullshit that becomes, "I heard about it". That eventually becomes, "I was out there (witnessed it)".
And finally the confession process begins. This can take just as long as the rest put together.

The offender will try to seek out what you know and only admit to that. You're trying to get new info out of him and don't want to let him know what you know. Holding back what you know is how you verify the rest of his story.

I don't think people ever confess 100%. They always try to hold back the little things that will make them look really bad. At some point you have to go with the story he gives you. If you push him too hard, you might lose him. Before he is done, he will have confessed several times to different people. He is usually trying to work his own angle. Trying to make the co-offenders or victim look bad. During rape-murder or kidnap-murder (kidnapping is much more common than you think) confessions it can be difficult to keep your focus. These are usually your only truly innocent victims.

When someone describes in detail for you how he raped and murdered some girl it makes you feel some kind of primal fear inside. Not the kind that makes you want to run away.

You're sitting next to some monster eating hamburgers with him. And you have to say crazy shit that revolts you, such as "did the bitch like it”?

It’s all about keeping him talking. But you feel dirty, jaded, and afraid for people you love afterwards. Murder is a brutal, ugly thing. 80 or 90 percent of the time it involves narcotics or alcohol in one way or another.

Crime scenes can be physically revolting when you first start working murders. Decomposed bodies will always be revolting. One particular murder has given me a life long aversion to eating ribs. The victims usually aren't people you can have a great deal of empathy for. Often times they have worse criminal histories than the offender. Between the low clearance rate and not guilty verdicts, I figure you have 3 out of 4 chances that you will get away with murder.

Knowing who committed murder and charging/convicting them are two different things.

I always think of a confession as going to a bar and trying to get a beautiful woman who has no interest in you to agree to a one time hook-up. It’s really a twisted romance. You talk for hours and hours about meaningless shit, all the time trying to bring the offender back to the murder.

Most people will eventually confess for various reasons that are too numerous to go into. Eventually there will be motions in court to suppress the arrest and the confession. Every good defense attorney will attack your probable cause for arrest (the legality of it) and validity of the confession (you beat my client).

During the motions stage of a prosecution truth is in short supply at the defense table.

They will say whatever is necessary to get the offender off. The thought is if we throw enough shit some might stick. This is where a detective really earns his money.

You have to be able to articulate to the judge what you did and why you did it. The Cook County State's Attorney’s office places great importance on confessions (probably too much). A supervisor from the State's Attorneys Felony Review Unit is the person who ultimately approves 1st Degree Murder charges.

Television gives great importance to DNA, etc.

Physical evidence is rarely present or effective in real world homicides.

Prosecution comes down to witnesses and confessions. That is why confessions are so important.

The Justice Department even offers a seminar for local prosecutors in how to run a jury trial in a "post CSI" world where the jury has unreal expectations.

Usually offenders who have been through the system for serious crimes before won't confess. They know that all you are selling them is decades in state prison.

The system isn't perfect. Many offenders are not prosecuted. The States Attorney, the CPD command structure, and the Criminal Court judges drive the process. The detective just works within the system.

None of those organizations would ever ask, "what do you need to put offenders in jail?". The real corruption in the police department is not a dirty cop ripping off the dope man. The real corruption is clout. It's the same clout that permeates the state's attorneys office and the judicial selection process. Unqualified people in charge all around you. Phil Cline is the first police superintendent (Chicago Police Department) since Joe DiLionardi during the Jayne Byrne era who knows what he is doing (and it shows). However, he still has to give the devil his due.

Sorry for meandering on. I do love my job. I believe in silly old-fashioned ideas like justice, integrity, and law & order.

No one, no matter what they have done, deserves to be murdered.

I don't believe in the death penalty. Not for moral reasons, I believe special interest groups have turned death row convicts into victims. It distracts from justice. They should be locked up in isolation for natural life. Let them die mentally every day.

I ended up in this profession quite by accident and I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing. Thanks for giving me the chance to write this down. These are all random thoughts that have been floating through my head for the last 6+ years. Work is not something I am not comfortable talking to people about.

Being a homicide detective has had one personal drawback. I have an overwhelming sense of my own mortality. It is mildly depressing. But all that other "cop on the edge" stuff you see on television is a load of bullshit. All jobs become routine.

On a side note; never trust a detective who dresses like one of those TV characters. Detectives should be presentable and professional, like Mr. Big (Chris Noth, who played opposite Jerry Orbach’s Det Briscoe character) during his Law & Order days.

Homicide investigations are about justice, not image. It has been my experience that self-involved people make useless detectives. Actually they make useless cops, and we already have way too many of those”.


Ernest Van Wagner noted in his autobiography, NEW YORK DETECTIVE, when he wrote it in 1938, the pleasure of the detective.

“There is little monotony in the detective’s life. No irksome repetition of yesterday’s work or that of the week before, such as is found in other callings. There is ever a series of new and alluring problems, no two exactly alike, each requiring new moves to arrive at a solution”.

Try to remember this alluring post the next time you’re standing at the Compstat podium!


I’ve recently found a cigar to rival my favorite.

My favorite, the La Gloria Cubana – Charlemagne and Corona Gorda – has recently met a great competitor.

If you haven’t already tried it, you have to check out the Padron Anniversary Series. A box press, hand made cigar to rival the best of them.

Editor’s Note: I am not suggesting, nor do I recommend, actually smoking one of these in a city-owned building, as there are appropriate ordinances against this, making this subject to heavy fines and disciplinary actions.

Smoke responsibly, and always treat an unlit cigar as you would a loaded firearm.


I apologize for delays between posting new items to this site. I'm trying to maneuver around the "new and improved" computer systems we have recently received from MISD. The department is upgrading computers, and has made a lot of progress in this direction. However, internet access is limited.

I have difficulty accessing certain internet sites - apparently filters installed by the department are intended to prevent access to "questionable" sites, and apparently sites with a name "blog" in the title appear as such. I'm sure the intention is to prevent pop-ups which could damage the system - BUT - I have noted that we are also prevented from getting into such sites as Google Earth, and even MapQuest to a large degree. I guess the investigative advantages of knowing where you're going haven't been realized by all those in charge.

Which brings me to another sore point - e mail addresses.

Three such requests to receive an authorized, department e-mail address have gone unanswered. Apparently, there is some sort of "study" underway to limit the number of department e-mail addresses - due to a concern of too many addresses overloading documents on the network. (!!???)

OK, but then... don't ask me to "e-mail your weekly reports" - because I don't have an e-mail account!

Oh, sure, I can get into my private e-mail account and send/receive e-mail - wait a minute, I can't do that either - it seems that (unless you have AOL) it comes up as one of those restricted access sites.

Excpet for my Yahoo e-mail, which I have posted above.

But, wait - that not's entirely accurate either.

See, I an COMPOSE and SEND e-mail f rom my Yahoo account, but I can't actually READ e-mail that comes to that account.

So if you e-mail me something, you have to wait until I get home and read it. Although i could send you e-mail f rom this account from my desktop - I just can't read anything you send back to me. Get it? makes a lot of sense, right?

As much sense as it makes when you're having a discussion with some small, out of town police agency about a wanted person who may be in their jurisdiction. "Just send me a photo of the bad guy, and we'll send a deputy out to check it out". Sounds simple enough, but - wait - remember, I can't actually SEND anything, because the department hasn't given me that capability. What about "scanning" a photo into the computer and sending it out via a private e-mail account? Makes sense, excpet the scanners that we used to have are no longer hooked up to any of the computers - because they're not authorized for the computer terminals.

Try telling Deputy Fyfe at Mayberry Police Department, who can receive anyone's e-mail at some e-mail address that would probably look like, that you'd like him to send his official department mug-shot for verification to you at your private AOL, or Compuserve, account. Nice try!

Ask HIDTA to send you a photo at your private AOL account. It can't be done!

Just wondering how many people in 1PP are experiencing a problem with e-mail accounts and access?


April 16, 1907 Ptl Alfred Selleck, 16 Pct, Shot – arrest
April 16, 1955 Ptl Andrew Reynolds, 107 Pct, Motorcycle accident on patrol
April 17, 1925 Ptl Thomas Kelly, 12 Div, Shot – arrest, GLA
April 17, 1938 Ptl Humbert Morruzzi, 9 Pct, Shot- robbery in progress
April 18, 1936 Ptl Leroy Sheares, 32 Pct, stabbed, arrest
April 19, 1963 Ptl Kenneth Cozier, ESU, LOD heart attack
April 21, 1934 Det James Garvey, 20Sqd, Shot- investigation
April 23, 1977 PO Robert Mandel, 77 Pct, shot-arrest
April 24, 1897 Rndsmn Oscar Rheinhardt, 31 Pct, Thrown from horse
April 24, 1969 Det John Roth, DD, auto accident on patrol
April 24, 1980 PO Robert Sorrentino, 101 Pct, shot-robbery
April 25, 1874 Ptl John Gibney, 1 Pct, shot
April 25, 1955 Sgt Donald Wiseman, 107 Pct, auto accident on patrol
April 27, 1892 Ptl Adam Kane, Bwy Sqd (1Pct), Beaten by EDP
April 27, 1988 Sgt John McCormick, BxNarco, shot-arrest
April 27, 1994 PO Jose Perez, BSTF, auto accident on patrol
April 29, 1945 Ptl Jacob Szwedowski, 24 Pct, Shot – arrest
April 30, 1979 PO Robert Betsch, 76 Pct, LOD heart attack