Sunday, January 31, 2010

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Giuseppe di Lampedusa: The Leopard


The retired NYPD Lieutenant that thousands of cops know, yet never knew, recently passed away. Huh?

Jesse Oldshein was the inspiration for the paper target that thousands of New York cops shot at for years. How many of us ever knew his name?

Jesse Oldshein retired as a Lieutenant, and has been living in Florida. He died recently, at the age of 92.

It was less than 2 years ago that he was unmasked as “The Thug” – the male holding a gun in a shooting pose that we shot at as a target at Firearms training for years.

This target was replaced in 2008, with a faceless Mr Clean look-alike, it was revealed that Jesse Oldshein was the model for the target.

When he showed up for firearms training one day in the early 1960’s, Oldshein was asked to pose for a picture. “Pose in a boxing stance”, he said he was told. “Next thing I know, my face is on a target.”

Jesse Oldshein served as a Lieutenant in the 79 Precinct before he retired. It was here that “The Ministers-Father” worked with Oldshein. Freddie remembers him fondly as a great cop and a “great Lieutenant – he really knew his stuff”.

Not only was he the face that everyone knew, even if we didn’t know him, but he was truly a “cops cop”.

In a thank-you letter sent Jesse OIdshein from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, he summed it up best when he wrote “Yours is the face that launched a thousand careers.”

We say “Farewell- and God Bless” to this NYPD legend.


Parking in NYC is no easy task. Heck, even the police cars get towed.

But if you think it’s tough here, I found a few articles recently about parking issues in Europe that makes New York sound like a parkers dream.

Parking fines based on the owners income?

European countries are increasingly pegging speeding fines to income as a way to punish wealthy scofflaws who would otherwise ignore the tickets.

A millionaire Ferrari driver min Swtzerland recently received a $290,000. speeding ticket, that was described as being fair and well-deserved by Swiss courts.

Germany, France and Austria, as well as the Nordic countries also issue punishments based on the person’s wealth.

The record for a speeding fine in Finland is $190,000 which was handed out in 2004.

A spokesperson for the Swiss courts indicated that rich drivers were routinely lightly punished until voters approved a 2004 penal law overhaul that let judges hand down fines based on personal income and wealth. This includes fines for traffic offenses and minor misdemeanors.

Wonder how long before this gets a good look here in the States? That banker’s bonus may just get paid back in the form of a speeding ticket!


In April 1964 the City Council passed a bill that formally established the Detective Division in the Police Department.

This measure now allowed the Police Commissioner statutory authority to designate Lieutenant’s as Commander of Detective Squad (CDS) and Sergeants as Supervisor of Detective Squad (SDS). It also allowed the formal establishment of both 2nd and 3rd Grade Detectives – prior to this statute, the only recognized rank as a Detective was Detective First Grade.

That doesn’t mean they weren’t using the titles before this, only that the city charter did not formally establish this until 1964.


A way to keep track of arrests made in a squad was by the use of the UF5 – Arrest Disposition Card.

Whenever a detective made an arrest, or was assigned to take fingerprints for an arrest made by a patrol officer, the UF5 was prepared and filed in the detective squad.

Up until the early 70’s, arrests requiring fingerprints were printed only by detectives. The fingerprints were only taken by the detectives; the measure was designed to ensure that prints were properly taken (when you do enough fingerprints, you can’t help but get at it – as most of us have learned!), but also provided the detectives the opportunity to see all those arrests within the precinct. This provided opportunity for future sources of information to be developed – standing and holding someone’s hand for the time it takes to roll several fingerprint cards is certainly a good opportunity to strike up a conversation – and most good detectives utilized this to their advantage.

The disposition of the arrest was noted on the card as well, as a way of keeping track of the “bad guys” in the neighborhood. Prior to computerization, the hand records kept in the squad were the lifeblood of a good investigation.

This provided a reference source when it was necessary to “round up the usual suspects.”


A 1948 edition of Spring 3100 has a cartoon that you may find amusing.

Man standing in front of the Desk Officer: “I want to speak to the burglar who was arrested for breaking into our house last night.”

Desk Lt: “Why?”

Man: “because I want to ask him how he got in without waking up my wife.”


Not only does Germany have the expensive speeding ticket to hang in front of the wealthy, they also have the burning car threat.

It seems that in parts of Berlin there is an anti-capitalist movement underway that targets expensive automobiles.

To scare the wealthy away from gentrifying neighborhoods, expensive cars are singled out and are lit on fire. These attacks have become so common that some Berliners use it as a way of gauging whether an area is up-and-coming.

Mercedes cars are the most popular, with a barbecue set slid underneath the car and lit on fire as the common way of starting the fire. Over 200 such fires have been reported in the past 6 months.

The areas of the city that have historically been inhabited by the less wealthy, but recently inhabited by the wealthy as they buy up and build – and force out those who have been living there – have seen the most incidents.

Authorities have noted that while some arson attacks may be random acts of vandalism, the location of many burnt cars – which are in areas of intense gentrification – suggest clear political intent.

So the wealthy of Europe not only have drive safely, but they better also watch where they park – and what cars they drive.


A recent article in the Financial Times notes how the current economic crisis has proven to be a boost to the bottom line of the Italian Mafia.

Because organized crime is cash based its balance sheet has flourished. As legitimate credit is pulled back, the Mafia is able to increase its usury rates allowing it to charge up to 10 percent a day because of reduced lending by banks.

The protection money – pizzo – extorted from an estimated 160,000 businesses has remained unchanged even during the economic crisis. This despite the increasing number of arrests effected by the Italian police agencies and high number of seizures of people and assets. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi describes the crackdown on organized crime in Italy as being the “toughest since Mussolini”.

Despite the crackdown, a leading fighter of organized crime notes that “Mafia Inc is a great entrepreneurial and financial group, with numerous tentacles”. Having these tentacles into narcotics – its largest income group – as well as construction and waste disposal, organized crime among the five main Mafia organizations is estimated at equaling 7 percent of Italy’s GDP.

To break the pull on organized crime you truly have to follow the money, in order to break the flow of the money.


While this is NOT intended as to replace or substitute for any actual NYPD Procedures in place regarding the “Handling of Physical Evidence”, the following basic guidelines regarding DNA evidence is presented as a background for the professional investigator.

Because extremely small samples of DNA can be used as evidence, greater attention to contamination issues is necessary when identifying, collecting, and preserving DNA evidence. DNA evidence can be contaminated when DNA from another source gets mixed with DNA relevant to the case. This can happen when someone sneezes or coughs over the evidence or touches his/her mouth, nose, or other part of the face and then touches the area that may contain the DNA to be tested.

To avoid contamination of evidence that may contain DNA, always take the following precautions:

Wear gloves. Change them often.

Use disposable instruments or clean them thoroughly before and after handling each sample.

Avoid touching the area where you believe DNA may exist.

Avoid talking, sneezing, and coughing over evidence.

Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth when collecting and packaging evidence.

Air-dry evidence thoroughly before packaging.

Put evidence into new paper bags or envelopes, not into plastic bags. Do not use staples.


What are you reading?

An obvious inquiry to an avid reader, often resulting in long conversation. Ask a reader this question and you never know what door you may open.

Let’s take a look at what’s on The Minister’s shelf.


I have recently acquired a copy of this new book, POLICING CONTROVERSY, by Ian Blair.

This book recounts the thirty-four year policing career of the man who served as the Commissioner of Police for London’s Metropolitan Police. He began his police career in 1974 with the Metropolitan police, serving in uniform and detective positions culminating in his rise to the highest position in British policing in 2005. He served as Commissioner until 2008 when he was forced to resign.

Ian Blair, properly named SIR Ian Blair – he was knighted in 2003 – holds no punches as he describes the trials and tribulations of leading the largest police force in England. I find it interesting to note that, despite the obvious differences between the police force in London compared with that in New York, how similar they are.

Keeping in mind that London has been battling a counter-terrorism mission for a longer period of time than we have here in New York, it’s of interest to the police professional to hear the inside scoop on some of these issues. Not often shared by other authors from similar backgrounds, Sir Ian Blair holds no punches in describing the political issues he faced while leading the department.

It’s obvious that he was not a very popular police leader, and he never professes to be otherwise. He introduced into a police force whose members – with the exception of some specialized teams – do not carry firearms, a corps of non-police officer individuals to assist the uniform force with their daily duties. His introduction of these “civilian” uniform positions, Police Community Support Officers, who work side by side with the uniform Police Constables, was and remain a point of controversy – especially with the uniform police officers.

Don’t these Support Officers take away positions from the other Police Officers? While they do not have all the “powers” of the police officers (constables, as they are known), they have visible duties in close contact with the public throughout the London area that the MPS polices.

He discusses at length the controversy over the police shooting of a person mistaken to be a terrorist bomber after the London Subway bombings, recounting many of the frustrations encountered by police whenever time allows a second-guessing of a moments life or death decision.

It was his differences with the Mayor of the City of London, who served as the President of the Metropolitan Police Authority – the overseers of the MPS – that eventually led to his resignation from his position.

As any fan of true crime will appreciate, and as we often say ourselves, no matter the different geography, there are more in common with the police agencies throughout the world than different. Reading what Sir Ian Blair has to say about his 34 year career and his struggles leading the MPS is no different.

I’d love to hear from my policing friends in the UK what they have to say about this former Commissioner.

“Policing Controversy” is my newest addition to my True Crime Library.


No, The Minister does not only read boring true-crime “buff” books, but you already know that.

I am at the point where I’m trying to decide what to dive into next.

I have a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s latest book, INHERENT VICE, sitting on my nightstand.

It’s right on top of WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, the novel of Thomas Cromwell and 16th Century England. It has characters like King Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, winner of the Man Booker Prize as Best Book for 2009.

You have King Henry VIII, who is entranced by the Boleyn sisters and wants a divorce. Apparently in the 16th Century, if you were the King of England you had to get a divorce in order to sneak around with other women. We all know how good that went, with the Church saying No-Way, and Henry saying Fine, I’ll just start my own Church then.

Along the way you have Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey and all the problems that faced knights living in that time. (Surely very different from knighted Sir Ian Blair!)

Winner of the Man Booker Prize is no easy prize, so there must be something here.

INHERENT VICE is a novel that brings you back to the 1960’s in the form of a bohemian-type private detective who makes very little money and spends his free time enjoying the high quality marijuana that California has to offer him. Sounding an awful lot like Magnum P.I. – but in hipster California instead of Hawaii, with a pot smoking lead character in place of, well, Tom Selleck. Can this story work?

Lots of people believe it has, as it has been critically acclaimed by reviewers everywhere. Are the reviewers acclaiming it for its story, or because of its well known author?

It’s been compared to Raymond Chandler’s private eye character, Philip Marlowe, but in a California surfer dude.

It’s a slightly spoofy take on hardboiled crime fiction, a story in which the characters smoke dope and watch “Gilligan’s Island” instead of sitting around a night club knocking back J&Bs. It’s “The Maltese Falcon” starring Cheech and Chong, “The Big Sleep” as told by the hippy-dippy weatherman. Whether you think it’s funny depends a little on whether you think Cheech and Chong and the hippy-dippy weatherman are funny for more than about two minutes. It’s funnier than Chandler, anyway.

But can it compare to the hard boiled detective fiction, the crime noir that it embodies?

I started reading INHERENT VICE on a short plane ride. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

I think I’ll be looking into what Tomas Cromwell may have to say. I’ll let you know.


Just about everyone who has gone through high school will have read, or at least supposed to have read, A CATCHER IN THE RYE. You probably have a copy of it somewhere – or at least the Cliff Notes for it.

With the recent death of its author, J D Salinger, this book has received a lot of attention the past weekend. The death of this 91 year old kook, who chose to remove himself from all human contact, will certainly reignite discussion of his tome.

Written in 1951, The Cathcer In The Rye is a story of a disenchanted youth, Holden Caufield, who has been described as the “prototypical angry young man”.

While Salinger was certainly a recluse, he was no hermit.

In 1953 he retreated from New York to a country cabin away from everyone so that he could “avoid any goddamn stupid conversation with anybody.” Sounds like he would be real fun at parties.

He married that same year. I wonder how that conversation went.

At 36 years old, he married a 19 year old from Radcliffe College. They apparently conversed enough to produce 2 children. The marriage lasted nine years before they divorced. She probably wanted to talk – he said “Good-bye”.

He managed to get married again in 1972, at 53 years old, to an 18 year old freshman from Yale. Wonder how she did in her English studies at Yale. That marriage lasted about 1 year.

Then again in the 1990’s, at around 70+ years, he again married a much younger woman. He remained married to his death. It’s not clear, but I imagine she never really had too much to say!

I have my copy of CATCHER IN THE RYE on by bookshelf – I’ll see how the tale of the knights of old goes. Maybe I’ll revisit Holden Caufield, but just for fun.

Or maybe I’ll get a copy of THE ROAD and read it before the movie reaches high acclaim!

February 1, 1935 Sgt George Nadler, ESU, Explosion-investigation
February 2, 1975 PO Frank Bugdin, Midtown North, Shot-investigation
February 4, 1933 Sgt Eugene Monahan, 34 Pct, Shot: Robbery pursuit
February 6, 1864 Ptl John Hoffman, 25 Pct – Accident, runaway horse
February 6, 1864 Ptl Austin Easterbrook, NFI
February 6, 1914 Ptl Edward Murtha, 147 Pct, Shot-Robbery investigation
February 6, 1944 Ptl Eugene Mahoney, 5 Det Sq, Auto accident on patrol
February 9, 1963 Det Richard Arundell, DetDiv, LOD Heart attack
February 10, 1926 Ptl Frank White, 35 Pct, Shot-Burglary in progress
February 11, 1966 Ptl Stanley Butch, Harbor, Fell from boat
February 11, 1982 PO James Carragher, PSA1, Shot: Off duty robbery
February 12, 1930 Ptl George Miller, 22 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
February 12, 1936 Ptl James Young, Mounted, Shot-robbery
February 12, 1940 Ptl John Holt, 28 Pct, Off-duty burglary
February 12, 1980 PO Robert Bilodeau, SCU, Shot-investigation
February 13, 1918 Ptl Samuel Rosenfeld, 102 Pct, Shot-Robbery in progress
February 14, 1921 Ptl John Sheridan, 70 Pct, Line of duty incident
February 14, 1925 Det Chester Hagan, DetDiv, Shot-investigation
February 14, 1963 Ptl Vincent Zichetella, 14 Pct, Shot-robbery
February 14, 1984 PO Thomas Ruotolo, 41 Pct, Shot-Robbery
February 14, 1999 PO Matthew Dziergowski, 123 Pct, Auto accident
February 15, 1917 Ptl Samuel Cunningham, 42 Pct, Shot-GLA Arrest
February 15, 1932 Ptl James Goodwin, 34 Pct, Shot-off duty robbery
February 15, 1971 Det Joseph Piciano, 41 Sq, Shot by prisoner

Friday, January 01, 2010


Modern technology is making its way to the pathologist’s table – the autopsy room – and could see the advancement of television detectives brought to real life.

Pathologists conducting an autopsy sometimes have only one chance to look for clues when dissecting a body. Sometimes the determination of the cause of death could be delayed as toxicology tests are performed, and minute microscopic bone analysis takes place.

Research and development that is going on in Sweden is bringing gaming technology to the medical examiner. A “Virtual Autopsy” system has been developed, and is sure to lead the way in pathology reform.

The virtual autopsy is one of the greatest advances in forensic medicine in the past hundred years. With the aid of three-dimensional X-ray techniques, virtual and bloodless autopsies are now being performed on suspected victims of crime. CMIV (the Centre for Medical Image Science and Visualisation) at Linköping University Hospital, NVIS (Norrköpings Visualisation and Interaction Studio) and the National Board of Forensic Medicine in Linköping are world leaders in the field of virtual autopsies.

Under the virtual autopsy exam, the body needing to be examined is first scanned using a computed tomography (CT) machine. This process takes about 20 seconds and creates up to 25,000 images, each one a slice through the body.

Different tissues, bodily substances and foreign objects – such as bullets – absorb the scanner’s x-rays in varying amounts. The software recognizes these and, through the aid of computerized graphics technology, a 3-D visualization is created.

A pathologist is able to peel through layers of virtual skin and muscle with the click of a computer mouse to get a close up view of everything inside the body, without the need to actually cut into the body.

A recent article in THE ECONOMIST concerning the advancement of the “Virtual Autopsy” outlines many of these advancements.

This technology is combined with a virtual autopsy table that makes the entire process easier to perform. Standing around a large touch-sensitive table that is an LCD-screen, the image of the body is displayed. Up to six examiners can gather around the table and, with the swipe of a finger, remove layers of muscle, zoom in and out of organs and slice through tissue with a virtual knife!

In use already in Sweden, the technique has been used in over 350 death cases and has proven its worth already.

Unlike the physical autopsy it does not alter evidence, enabling examiners to revisit a cadaver for additional clues as they need to.

Apart from avoiding cutting in the body the medical experts, such as coroners, can see things that are difficult to discover in a conventional autopsy. Furthermore, the technique opens up for new opportunities in countries where autopsies are not accepted due to cultural reasons.

The commonly used term for this Virtual Autopsy is “Virtopsy”.

Virtual Autopsies create digital and permanent records of the body, making it easier for forensic pathologists to communicate with each other. Real samples are hard to transport and share between pathologists, while the digital image of the body can be shared electronically among forensic pathologists and can be stored for future study.

Forensic pathologists can conduct autopsies through the internet, freeing some hospitals from the need to retain or hire forensic pathologists of their own. This means that hospitals with CT and MRI units can take advantage of virtual autopsies even though they have no in-house forensic pathologists.

The legal system will also benefit from this new technology as the three dimensional images can easily be shown in courtrooms and spare people from having to look at the traditional autopsies' gruesome pictures of the victim's body. The images from a virtual autopsy can also be made interactive, helping the judge and jury understand some technical facts.

Although the equipment needed in performing virtual autopsies are very expensive, virtual autopsies will be a lot cheaper than conventional autopsies as the process involves fewer resources and is a lot easier to perform.

The University Medical Center's Institute of Diagnostic Radiology in Bern, Switzerland has already performed over a hundred virtual autopsies in the past three years. These virtual autopsies were followed by real autopsies and, so far, the results have matched.

In 1999 this technology was used to apprehend the murderer of a woman found floating in a river. Soon this technology can be used for some complex or time-consuming cases. For instance, it can be used to determine whether a baby has been shaken to death as it would be easier to study the blood ruptures behind the eyes. In cases of heart attack, it can detect damage to the heart muscles.

This technology can also be used to study blunt force trauma cases. A Virtual autopsy is also a good method in bioterrorism incidents as it lowers the risk of contaminating pathologists and other medical personnel.

A Virtual Autopsy leaves the body intact, so it would not add to the grief the victim's family is feeling.

This also overcomes the obstacles presented by religions that forbid cutting up cadavers.

For a video demonstration of the Virtual Autopsy, check out the following link:

This following link demonstrates the Virtual Autopsy Table:


I found the following advice on restoring dry cigars written by Thor Nielsen.

Every cigar smoker will at some time be faced with the problem of trying to restore dry cigars. Doing it properly will bring them back to life, and perhaps keep you from losing a sum of money invested in the stock. Doing it improperly will only speed up the trip to the garbage container.

One of the most important steps in restoring dry cigars is patience, and lots of it.

It’s always good to remember that if moisture can escape from a cigar, it can be
put back in it. If a cigar is dry it can be revived, but it may be difficult. There
are different methods to restoring dry cigars.

The most important thing to remember is that this is a slow process, and the cigars need to go through a couple of phases of thawing and/or a slow introduction back to humidity before it can be put into a functioning humidor or exposed to any sort of higher humidity

Some people store their cigars in the freezer. This is something that many
people do but is not advisable as it can easily damage a cigar. Freezing cigars
prevents aging, it will dry them out and the cigars will need to be returned to
normal temperature slowly before they can be smoked, (otherwise they could
split or crack). The cigars should have a solid two to three weeks at the proper
temperature in a humidified environment before lighting them up in order to
ensure the best possible smoking experience.

Restoring dry cigars can be done, but even with effort, in the end they may not be as good as they could have been if stored properly in a humidified environment from the beginning.

After taking a cigar from the freezer, put it in the refrigerator, that will allow it to thaw
at a slower rate, putting less risk on damaging the cigars. After the cigars have
been in the refrigerator long enough to thaw, take them out and put them in
Tupperware or plastic bag and let them come up to room temperature. After
that is achieved, you can add a damp towel or let them rest in a slightly dry
humidor for a few days so the cigars can start to absorb some of the humidity.

If using a humidor go back and fill the humidification system only part way,
letting the cigars rest for another week before fully charging the humidity
regulator. This method ensures a slow absorption of moisture, preventing the
cigars from getting too much humidity too soon, which can result in splitting or
cracking making the cigars un-smokeable.

If you don’t store your cigars in a freezer and they dried out at room
temperature, a great method is to place a box inside a plastic bag. Be sure the
bag is not completely closed because some airflow is actually desired. A
dampened sponge with water or 50/50 solution should be placed in the bag.

This process can take several weeks or a month. Rotate the cigars every few
days, bringing the ones on the bottom to the top, etc.

If this is done properly the result is usually successful and pleasurable. If a cigar box is not available, other containers like Tupperware may be used. Put the dry cigars in the
container and seal it for a couple days - this traps any moisture left in the cigars.
On the third day a damp sponge can be added, but don’t over-saturate the
sponge so the cigars become moist too quickly.

Keep the lid propped open in one corner so air can circulate.

When cigars lose moisture, they also lose much of their bouquet, and which
together results in a cigar not tasting as good as one that has been properly
humidified. The most important factor that needs to be reiterated, is this is a
slow process.

With patience the wait is usually always worth it.



Patrolman John Thompson of the Brooklyn Police Department was killed in the line of duty on December 18, 1877.
Patrolman Thompson was killed when he was thrown from his horse while attempting to stop a runaway horse pulling a grocery wagon on Hamilton Street. During the incident he was impaled by a piece of the grocery cart and succumbed to his injuries.
Patrolman Thompson was assigned to the Mounted Squad.


Roundsman (equivalent of today’s Sergeant) Phelan of the Brooklyn Police Department died of injuries he received six years earlier when he was struck on the head with a paving stone. Roundsman Phelan was struck in the head with a paving stone while assisting in a U.S. Government raid on a illegal whiskey still at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Plymouth Street.Roundsman Phelan had served with the Brooklyn Police Department for 19 years, and was assigned to the 2nd Precinct (present day 84th Precinct).Roundsman Phelan was survived by his wife.


January 2, 1932 Ptl John Kranz, Det Sqd, Shot
January 3, 1975 PO Michael McConnon, 13 Pct, Shot-robbery
January 3, 1978 PO Ronald Stapleton, 77 Pct, Shot, off duty incident
January 5, 1922 Det William Miller, 38 Sqd(32 Sq), Shot-arrest
January 5, 1922 Det Francis Buckley, Det Div, Shot-arrest
January 5, 1944 Ptl Patrick Malone, Traffic I, Auto accident on patrol
January 7, 1930 Ptl Paul Schafer, 19 Pct, Motorcycle accident on patrol
January 7, 1933 Ptl Walter Murphy, 14 Div (13 Div), Shot-pursuit
January 7, 1934 Ptl Ernest McCarron, 68 Pct, Fire rescue
January 8, 1946 Ptl Benjamin Wallace, 32 Pct, Shot-Investigation
January 9, 1938 Ptl Anthony Tornatore, 52 Pct, Shot-investigation
January 9, 1973 Ptl Stephen Gilroy, ESS8, Shot-robbery / hostages
January 10, 1987 PO Francis LaSalla, ESS1, Fire rescue
January 10, 1998 PO Edward Ahrens, 28 Pct, Shot (5/5/75) narco invest



Health and happiness throughout the New Year.

Bring on 2010!!