Friday, March 05, 2010



One of the most important pieces of advice that any senior investigator can offer another investigator is simple direction: GO BACK!!

Go back over the months. Go back over the years. You will never know when a witness will turn around or a perpetrator will “Give it up”. Over time the perpetrator may have confided his story of the deed and then later have a falling out with that person. The motives of revenge, jealousy, greed and hate often cause the confidant to inform on the perpetrator and become a witness. There are times when a perpetrator suffers from remorse, or has pent up feelings of guilt – and is just waiting for the police to come knock on his door.

“We’re ‘gonna eat this one”

A professional investigator will never accept the above statement as it surrenders to the felon, and from that point on the investigation goes downhill.

The professional accepts the challenge and does his/her best to bring the case to a successful conclusion. Many cases will at first appear to be obvious and easy and, as the case develops, original opinions and hopes for an easy solution become frustrated and thwarted by a lack of evidence or corroboration.

At the same time, cases that appear to offer no means of solution may turn out to be one of the easiest cases in the squad’s caseload.

I recall a homicide several years ago where a decomposed body was found buried under the basement of a newly purchases building by the new owner. Deciding to refurbish the basement, he began digging – and came across the skeleton.

“You’re gonna have to eat this one” was a common theme of the thoughts the catching detective heard from around the squad room. It didn’t help that this was his first homicide case, either.

Going back to basics, the detective followed the trail backwards. “Who did you buy the house from”; then from the previous owner, “Who lived in the basement”. By the second day it was learned the basement had been rented to a parolee and his friend. The parolee suddenly disappeared, and had been listed as a parole absconder – and never found. A few more phone calls and some knocking on doors, and the detective found the prior roommate of the missing parolee. “I figured you be here one day” is how the detective was met at the door. Statement of admission, written and on video – before we even had the body positively identified! Not bad for the first homicide he caught.

Arrests were made – within 3 days – and no one had to “eat the case”.


There are very few positives and/or negatives in life.

The investigator deals with the human element, and should be prepared to accept anything!

Rational, irrational, logical and illogical – behavior that will often puzzle and confuse.

Many times you will ask yourself, and someone else will ask you, “why did he do that?”, or “why would someone act like that?”

You may never be able to figure out the answer, as people’s actions may be dependent on irrational and illogical thinking and decisions.

“Why would he point an imitation pistol at a police officer?” Trying to determine a logical response to an illogical and unreasonable person’s thought process may be impossible. There are thousands of instances of irrational acts performed by human beings – who really knows why?

Why would two brothers keep a mummified corpse of their mother for years in their apartment, and then finally decide to bury her? And then why would they pass several vacant lots and try to bury the body next to an occupied apartment building?

Why do killers return to the scene of the crime? Why?


One of the worst statements for me to hear upon arrival at a crime scene is the phrase: “This one’s a ground ball, boss.”

That’s pretty much the same as using the “Q” word while sitting around the squad room (“It sure is QUIET around here tonight”). Do you believe in jinxes?

Every case demands a thorough investigation to insure a conviction. Detectives know that their job doesn’t stop once probable cause is established and an arrest is made – making sure that the case will stand up at trial should be the goal of the professional investigator. Putting the time and effort into the investigation to corroborate witnesses statements, and to refute a perpetrators alibi, are all important investigative tasks that need to be performed on every case – even on the seemingly “ground ball” case.


Be careful and concise in your actions.

You’ve responded to the scene of the crime, after the crime has been committed.

Your job, as a professional investigator, is a thinking job; rushing and charging into things can cause you to overlook the obvious and miss the hidden. You can destroy a good investigation by not getting the required documents needed for corroboration, or by trying to bypass a warrant that will cause you to lose your evidence.

Few cases are wrapped up in a day, and generally good investigations may take weeks – and sometimes months – to be put together. It would be a shame to lose the case because you tried to cut corners and missed that important piece of evidence.

Not every case can be solved within a 28 day period. It is the perseverance of the good detective, persistence and attention, that help move an investigation to its conclusion. Trying to rush things doesn’t work.

Time is on your side.

Just because a case isn’t solved in the first 72 hours doesn’t mean you won’t have any success.

One of the principles of homicide investigation is that you follow 2 sets of numbers:
24 & 72

24 meaning you want to go back over your victims actions for the 24 hours prior to his/her death. Very often this will provide insight into why the victim was killed, which often will lead to who did it.

The 72 refers to the first 72 hours of the investigation. This is the time that the foundation of a good investigation is laid – the first 72 hours. You may not have the case wrapped up in 72 hours, but the efforts and work you put in during the first 72 hours should provide you with an insight into what happened, and several theories about why and who. You can’t make up for these early hours right after an investigation begins – capitalize on the crime scene forensic evidence, and on interviews of interested parties while the event is still fresh in their mind – and while it still means something to them.

The other way that time is on your side is with the addition of the human element.

Often, your perpetrator will tell someone about what happened. This provides a pool of potential witnesses – you just need to find the right one.

If the crime isn’t solved quickly, time becomes a friend and may eventually bring the killer to justice. But you have to work at it!


You will often hear that a case was broken because someone “got lucky”.

In most cases where “Luck” is attributed to solving the case, the investigator made his/her own luck. They got off the chair and into the field and knocked on doors. They handed out flyers, the canvasses and re-canvassed. Finally something happens that pays off. “Luck” solved the case? Or the hard work they put in over weeks of “no results” paid off finally.


You create your own luck by getting into the street and asking questions.

You knock on peoples doors and you ask them questions.

You don’t wait for the phone to ring – witnesses won’t be tracking you down, you have to track them down.

Get Off You’re A** and Knock On Doors” – GOYAKOD

There comes a time when all the research and background has been done – get out into the street and do what detectives do. Talk to people. Ask questions. And follow up on leads.

Forensics doesn’t solve homicides – detectives do. Forensics provide the corroboration, the support, and often the valuable lead – which the detective needs to act on to build a case. Without the work of the detective, the case does not get “solved”.

Create your own “luck” – a recipe for success as a Detective.


Having said all that regarding the professional detective investigator - is there anyone there who has ever seen an episode of BARNEY MILLER that doesn't think that show is one of the most realistic detective shows ever to air on televsion??

Think about - every squad room has the same cast of characters that occupied Barney's squad room. A classic show if there ever was one!

More on Barney Miller's cast of characters to come.


Being released this weekend is a new movie, "BROOKLYN'S FINEST".

Is it really?

Another movie depicting corrupt cops and disgruntled police in operation. It seems to have received some mixed reviews, as the Daily News gave it 3-Stars, while the NY Post pretty much canned it.
The NY Post described the movie as "tale of demoralized cops who turn a blind eye to crime, grab every chance to rip off drug dealers, and befriend the gangs who are ostensibly running the neighborhoods".
Retired Det First Grade Louis Savarese, retired from Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, is quoted in the NY Post article about the movie.

"I just wish once they would do a story about a guy who comes in and does an honest day's work, but that would never sell," fumed retired homicide detective Louis Savarese, who spent 33 years in the Brooklyn neighborhoods featured in the film.

You can read the entire NY Post article on this link:

Starring Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke, they certainly added some pretty well known names to the cast.

What you probably didn't know, though, was they also had a contingent of people from the streets of Brownsville - they filmed a lot of their scenes in Brownsville, and put some local talent to work.

All well and good, except one of their talent pool was none other than the person we arrested for a Homicide last year.

A convicted murderer and overall crook received several thousand dollars for his work as an "extra", and for providing the "technical advice" on what people would do if a drive-by shooter approached. (He told them they wouldn't run away; someone would be running after the car shooting back. They apparently took his advice, and reshot the scene).

In real life this "advisor" shoots and kills one person in the middle of the afternoon in what was termed the "Cake To Die For" homicide (the victim stopped at a local bakery for a piece of cake, where the perp found him and ran up on him shooting) - while firing shots into a salon as the victim ran, striki ng an off-duty MOS in the foot, and a second Non-Fatal Victim multiple times.

Makes you want to see the picture even more?

I thought it was interesting that the cast and staff of the film had a "New York Opening" of this film - "Brooklyn's Finest" - recently.

Where was the party held?

You guessed it - MANHATTAN!


March 1, 1945 PO Albert Black, Traffic F, Fire rescue
March 1, 1970 PO Joseph Mariconda, Aviation and
PO Patrick Harrington, Aviation
Helicopter Accident
March 2, 1924 PO Thomas Gaffney, 26 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
March 3, 1989 PO Robert Machate, BSTF, Shot-car stop
March 4, 1927 PO Henry Farrell, 3A Pct, Fire rescue
March 5, 1973 PO Irving Wright, 20 Pct, Shot-arrest
March 5, 1975 PO Robert Rogerson, Div.Licenses, Auto accident
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 10, 2003 Det Rodney Andrews, OCCB Firearms, Shot-UC gun buy
March 10, 2003 Det James Nemorin, OCCB-Firearms, Shot-UC gun buy
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