Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Take a ride into the history of the earliest transit cops...and follow their development into one of the largest specialized police departments in the country, and their successful merger into the NYPD in 1995.

Rapid transit has played an integral part in the lives of New Yorkers for well over 100 years.

The first trains ran at grade level and on elevated structures. Underground trains were added on October 27, 1904 when, after taking four and a half years to build, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) opened to the public. Since both the IRT and the competing BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) lines were privately financed and built, they had no police, but only their own private security personnel. The new IND (Independent) lines, however, which began operating in 1932, were owned by New York City and run by the Board of Transportation. These lines originally had "station supervisors" employed to police them, their names having been taken from the NYC Police Department's hiring list.

On November 17, 1933, six men were sworn as New York State Railway Police. They were unarmed but were still responsible for the safety of the passengers on the IND line, as well as guarding the system's property.

Two years later, 20 "station supervisors, class B" were added for police duty. Responsible for assisting in the opening and closing of doors and announcing destinations, these 26 "specials" were soon given powers of arrest, but only on the IND line. And thus the New York City Transit Police Department was born.

In 1937, 160 more men were added to this police force. Additionally, 3 lieutenants, 1 captain, and 1 inspector from the NYPD were assigned as supervisors. When the privately-run IRT and BMT lines were taken over by New York City in 1940, the small patrol force on the IND line nearly doubled in size. Now part of the Civil Service system, more Transit supervisors were needed. In 1942, the first promotional exam was given for the title of "Special Patrolman Grade 2" - or what is now known as a sergeant.

The Code of Criminal Procedure was changed in 1947 granting Transit patrolmen peace officer status and by 1950, the number of "specials" reached 563. The following year, exams were held for both Transit sergeants and lieutenants. In 1953, the New York City Transit Authority came into being and assumed control over all the subway lines from the old Board of Transportation.

Beginning in 1949, the question as to who should supervise the Transit Police Department was one which was carefully scrutinized over the next five years by various city officials. The issue being considered was, "Should Transit be taken over by the NYPD?"

In 1955, the decision was made that the Transit Police Department would become a separate and distinctly different Department, ending almost two decades of rule by the NYPD. The Civil Service Commission established a new test for Transit recruits, and on April 4, the first appointments from the list were made.

An NYPD lieutenant, Thomas O'Rourke, was also designated the first commanding officer of the Transit Police Department. Soon after, Lieutenant O'Rourke along with 9 others passed the captain's exam. Captain O'Rourke was then appointed as the first Chief of the new department.

With crime on the rise, the number of Transit officers increased so that by 1966, the Department had grown to 2,272 officers. That year, Robert H. Rapp was appointed Chief by the NYC Transit Authority. Under Chief Rapp, and at the direction of the Mayor, an ambitious new anti-crime program got underway. The program had a goal of assigning an officer to each of New York City's subway trains between the hours of 8:00 PM and 4:00 AM. And the Transit Police Department continued to grow. By early 1975, the department comprised nearly 3,600 members.

In 1975, a former NYPD chief inspector and sometime City Council president, Sanford D. Garelik, was appointed Chief of the Transit Police Department.

Determined to reorganize the Transit Police Department, Chief Garelik was also successful in instilling a new sense of pride and professionalism among the ranks. However, the fiscal crisis that began that year was an unexpected blow - especially to Transit cops. Over the next five years, layoffs and attrition would reduce their numbers to fewer than 2,800. New officers would not be hired until 1980. By the early 1990's however, the Transit Police Department had regained all of its former strength and had increased even further. In 1994, there were almost 4,500 uniformed and civilian members of the Department, making it the sixth largest police force in the United States.

Over time, however, the separation between the NYPD and the NYC Transit Police Department created more and more problems. Redundancy of units, difficulty in communications, and differences in procedures all created frustration and inefficiency.

As part of his mayoral campaign, candidate Rudolph Giuliani pledged to end the long unresolved discussion and merge all three of New York City's police departments (the NYPD, the Transit Police, and the NYC Housing Authority Police Department) into a single, coordinated force. Mayor Giuliani took office on January 1, 1994, and immediately undertook to fulfill his promise and end a problem that had defied final solution for almost half a century.

Discussions between the City and the New York City Transit Authority produced a memorandum of understanding, and on April 2, 1995, the NYC Transit Police was consolidated with the New York City Police Department to become a new Bureau within the NYPD. After a reorganization of the Department in February of 1997, the Transit Bureau became the Transit Division within the newly formed Transportation Bureau. The Transportation Bureau dissolved in the Spring of 1998 and in July of 1999, the Transit Division once again became the Transit Bureau.


Retired Det. Alan Berkowitz has provided the following trivia question.

Can you name this former member of the New York City Transit Police Department?
In 1941, he started his law enforcement career with the New York City Transit Police. Eleven months later (1942) he was called and accepted appointment to the NYPD.

As a member of the NYPD, he rose through the ranks, from patrolman, detective, lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector, inspector, 1 star chief, 2 star chief and finally 3 star chief. He is very famous on the NYPD.

Can you name this officer who started out in "TRANSIT"? Yes, he is alive today!

Answer below.


A loyal reader, Ret Sgt Tucker DeGraw, has written in with a little Larry Eggers tidbit.

He noted that the only Larry that he would ever think of that would carry an alligator in his pocket would have to be Larry Eggers.

Some things never change!

He remarked also that he knows Larry spent a lot of time when visiting the Keys searching for Geckos and other wildlife to take back to the squad room.

That would certainly be our Larry!!


Along the lines of “Remember when”, Tucker DeGraw, former Squad Commander of the 94 Squad, sent along some entries in the 1987 Official Roster for Brooklyn North.

Do you recall any of these names?

Borough command included DI Charlie Prestia, Magne Byshiem, Tommy Morris and Captains Finn, Bromberg and Billy Gardella.

The Squad CO’s were: 73- Gene Albright; 75- Herbie Hohman; 81- Jose Vasquez; 77- Georgie Duke; 79- John Garry; 84- Jack Hart; 88- James Clancy; 83- Nick DeLuise; 90- Bob Ceccarni; and the 94- Tucker De Graw.

Magne Byshiem’s son, Jimmy Byshiem, was a 75 RIP Sergeant at one point, and retired himself as a Captain from OCCB. We all know George Duke went on to take over first, the 75 Squad, and then Major Case, where he retired not that long ago as a D.I. He still plays golf regularly with Chief Ferrari and Insp Fitzpatrick.


About that Transit Trivia question - He still has his appointment card to the job, from the Board of Transportation!

It's former Chief of Detectives Albert A. Seedman.

Chief Seedman presently lives in Florida, and I am proud to note that I was able to get him to autograph my copy of the book about him, CHIEF. It’s one of my prouder pieces of my true crime collection.


Please try to find a way in your heart to help out this 10 year old.

Gabriella Aurichio is the granddaughter of Anita and Norm Horowitz. Norman is the renown Retired Sergeant of the 90 Squad.

Gabriella is in Schneider’s Children’s Hospital for Aplastic Anemia. She is undergoing chemotherapy and will then receive a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Alexandra. She is expected to be in critical condition for at least a month after the treatment and will not return to school or visit her friends for 8 months!

Her treatment will then need to continue for another 1-3 years.

The financial burden is astronomical, not to mention the emotional strain on everyone involved.

The NY Chapter of the Untouchables Motorcycle Club, of which Norman – and many NYPD MOS- are members of, will be hosting a Benefit and Bike Run on Saturday, August 18, starting at 10 am.

The Bike run will begin at 10am at Roosevelt Beach, in Oyster Bay and will end at the Tack Room in Bethpage, NY.

Perhaps you can make it out for the Bike Run? Or maybe you can join everyone for the after-festivities at the Tack Room?

They are asking for a $20 per person donation for the food, raffles and band that will take place at the bike run’s completion.

If you cannot make the event, you can still help Gabriella by making donations to:

Gabriella Auricchio
150-12 21 Ave
Whitestone, NY 11357

Every once in a while, when you think how bad things are, you get a smack of reality in the face! Please try to help out any way that you can.


Please take a moment to remember in your prayers the family of P.O. RUSSELL TIMOSHENKO, who was recently killed in the line of duty, shot down during a car stop on July 9, 2007 in the 71 Precinct. He succumbed to his injuries on July 14.

A note of gratitude to all who worked so hard in bringing the killers to justice. Working side by side with these ladies and gentlemen once again proved why NYC Detective’s are “The Greatest Detectives in the World”.


July 15, 1977 PO Edward Mitchell, 34 Pct, Shot:Robbery
July 16, 1987 PO George Scheu, 115 Pct, Shot:Robbery,off duty
July 17, 1938 Ptl Harry Padian, 32 Pct, Shot by prisoner
July 17, 2000 PO John Kelly, PBSI, Auto accident on patrol
July 18, 1992 PO Paul Heidelberger, PSA4, Shot:Off duty
July 20, 1857 Ptl Eugene Anderson, 14 Pct, Shot:Burglary in progress
July 20, 1964 Ptl John Polarolo, Harbor, Auto accident on patrol
July 21, 1950 Ptl Alfred Loreto, 24 Pct, Shot:Off duty pursuit
July 22, 1921 Ptl Charles Potter, 27 Pct, Drowned during rescue
July 22, 1922 Ptl Arthur Loewe, 78 Pct, Shot:Robbery in progress
July 22, 1983 PO James Rowley, Aviation, Helicopter accident
July 23, 1983 PO Charles Trojahn, Aviation, Helicopter accident
July 24, 1876 Sgt James McGiven, 17 Pct, Stabbed, Robbery
July 24, 1951 Ptl Albert Polite, 94 Pct, Motorcycle accident
July 24, 1971 Ptl Robert Denton, 73 Pct, Stabbed during investigation
July 26, 1923 Ptl Frank Romanella, 29 Pct, Shot during investigation
July 26, 1923 Ptl Charles Reynolds, 116 Pct, Shot
July 26, 1924 Ptl John Hyland, 42A Pct, Shot:Robbery in progress
July 26, 1957 Ptl Edward O’Leary, 7 Div, Auto accident transporting prisoner
July 27, 1942 Ptl Michael Keene, Traffic A, Auto accident on patrol
July 27, 1950 Ptl Roderick O’Connor, Mcy2, Motorcycle accident on patrol
July 27, 1964 Ptl Richard Walburger, 9 Pct, Shot:Burglary in progress
July 28, 1929 Ptl William Kerlin, ESU, Auto accident on patrol
July 28, 1930 Ptl Dominick Caviglia, 20 Pct, Shot:Burglary in progress
July 28, 1930 Det Thomas Hill, 48 Sq, Shot during investigation
July 29, 1906 Ptl William Hederman, 35 Pct, Drowned during rescue
July 30, 1945 Ptl Howard Hegerich, 28 Pct, shot during investigation
July 31, 1947 Ptl William Panczyk, Traffic Unit, Auto accident on patrol
July 31, 1965 Ptl. Maitland Mercer, 76 Pct, Shot-off duty arrest