Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Retired, 1982- Brooklyn South Homicide; 60 Squad; 73 Squad; 73 Pct


On Sunday, February 20, 2011, the world lost a good man.

Known by many as the Detective who caught The Son of Sam, I knew Mr. Zigo as the father of a friend. I am honored to be able today to call him a friend.

At 84 years old, surrounded by his family, Ed passed away, succumbing to cancer. May his family recall fond memories of their father, grandfather, husband. And all that ever had the pleasure of his company will recall greatness in a man that lived his life doing the right thing.

An inspiration to more than he ever knew. As a Detective. As a person.

When it was used with Edward Zigo, FIRST GRADE was not a rank, it was a definition of the man. God bless you, Mister Zigo.

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Monday, February 21, 2011


As I lounge in nice weather away from the new snow storm hitting New York, I tried to find, in order to repost, my deleted edition. Dare I try to utilize Blog-Post once again?

I recall that the deleted posting included some facts about the movie, French Connection, as well as a leadership piece related to "teaching the way of the Jedi".

While I cannot find a copy of the French Connection part, I did find the Jedi documentary.

I will repost the French Connection facts when I put it all together. In the meantime, here's my diatribe on the "way of the Jedi".


In a recent NY Times article by Julie Greenwald, the Chairwoman and CEO of Atlantic Records, a interview in which she discussed her leadership style had me making an analogy to the detective squad.

Talking about her leadership style she states that she spends a lot of time in small meetings, making sure they are "constantly talking about culture and what we need and why something is not just one person's responsibility, and that we all have to have ownership".

As I read this statement I immediately saw the assimilation to what we need to accomplish as a detective squad supervisor or commander.

"Talking about culture" is what we need to be doing with our newest detectives, and reinforcing with our older staff. Louis Savarese used to use a term that I feel sums things up pretty much in a nutshell: "Someone has to teach them the way of the Jedi". How true this is.

If you want your detectives to perform as a team then you need to teach them that. If you have certain expectations of what the role of the detective should be, then you need to communicate this "culture" to your staff. You cannot expect compliance with that which you have not explained.

The responsibility of each member to perform as part of a team is exemplified in great terms when a squad responds to a major c rime incident. The need for each member to perform his/her role as if it was the most important, and to perform their tasks as they would want it to be done if they were the "catching" detective, is critical if success is to be accomplished.

"Having ownership" is a corporate term that is bandied about in management circles, and one which you may think has no analogy to criminal investigations. But if you think about this in line with those thoughts on individual responsibility as part of a team task, then I think you will agree with me that "having ownership" is very applicable to what we do.

Providing a feeling of ownership to those who work in your squad is a valuable concept. All too often messages are sent downhill with the directive of "do this or else", without anyone taking the time to explain to those who are being expected to do why it is important for them to do this. By explaining how specific tasks are applicable to the investigative process, and by bringing the troops into the circle of understanding on why certain procedures are initiated, or why it is that you- as the supervisor- want certain things done in a certain way, then you mission of compliance will start off on the right foot.

Letting all members of the team- your squad- feel that they possess "ownership" on what is performed by their squad, in a team concept, is critical to having a successful command.

Not every case will, or can, be solved just by teamwork. But when all members are working together for the same common goal, your chances of success are greatly increased.

Isn't that what our mission as detective supervisors is?

"All hands on deck" approach to the major crime response will become second nature when your investigative understand the culture of the detective, the culture of their squad, and they have a feeling of ownership in the end result of their squad's investigation.

Teach the culture, and expect teamwork as second nature.

Teach the way of the Jedi, and communicate expectations if you wish to have success.

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(which is why I haven't yet figured out how to highlight and colorized titles. Will have to do the best I can for now. Hey, give me a break- I'm on vacation!) Ed Note 2: I just figured it out!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Note to Readers: somehow, in using new technology that allows me to post to this site direct from my iPad, I mistakenly deleted a previous weeks post. Which wouldn't be so bad if I actually had the entry saved somewhere. Oh well, now I know what that "Delete" button really does. The Minister

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Police Officer Edward R. Byrne
End of Watch: Friday, February 26, 1988

Age: 22
Shield Number: 14072
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Friday, February 26, 1988

Officer Byrne was shot and killed while protecting a witness in a drug case. He was parked in a marked patrol car when two suspects approached him. One of suspects knocked on the passenger window to distract him as the second suspect ran up to him the driver's window and opened fire, striking him in the head five times. Two additional suspects served as lookouts.

The four suspects were members of a gang who were instructed to kill a police officer. The four were apprehended and sentenced to 25 years to life.

Officer Byrne was survived by his parents and three brothers.

You can view a PO Edward Byrne Tribute Video at:



There are two very important tasks that need to become second nature to the investigator.

Sourcing your information is the first.

Presenting facts that lead to conclusions- and not merely presenting the conclusion- is the other.

What does this mean in everyday terms?

As an investigator you gather facts in an effort to reach a conclusion. You ask questions, many many questions if you're doing it right, and you base your conclusion on these answers.

Make sure that, in asking your questions, you are "Sourcing" the information you collect.

When you ask a question, consider if the answer is from the source, or is it being passed along. When you ask "what train station did the victim use", and you receive the answer "Main Street , make sure you "source" the info by determining how that answer was developed. How does the person know this? Was this fact verified by a MetroCard, or by someone who factually knows this? Or was this a "guess" based on location?

If you are told your victim was last seen Thursday night, you need to be asking yourself, and the person who tells you this, "How do we know this?" "Who told you that, and how do they know? What are the facts to support this"?

Without properly sourcing your facts you may find yourself spinning your wheels working on a "lead" that isn't valid. Or perhaps missing a key fact for days due to a misplaced assumption.

"Who told you, and what facts support this" - all part of SOURCING your information.


As an investigator you must always be aware of the need to let your facts lead you to your conclusion- through all parts of your investigation.

This remains as necessary during the interview stage as much as it does in the final conclusion stage. Consider these examples.

Upon arrival at a crime scene you receive the information "the victim had a gang tattoo and gang beads". You need to be asking the inquiring questions regarding what exactly does this mean.

"A gang tattoo" is a concluding statement. What exactly does the tattoo look like? That is the info you will need. You should be describing the tattoo, and then you can make the statement "which is known to be a gang indicator" or something along those lines. To pass along the statement "he had a gang tattoo" is not complete unless you also know the facts of that conclusion-what the tattoo looked like.

Be aware of the necessity of sourcing your information, and providing facts leading to a conclusion, in both your verbal updates as well as in your written reports, in order to produce the investigation which you could be proud of.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

"He went looking for trouble but trouble found him".

A quote from Mike Hammer, Private Eye


Seated inside the small but renowned fried chicken and southern style food kitchen, Pies & Thighs on Driggs Avenue and S.4 Street in Williamsburg, you look out of the front window and across Driggs Avenue to a building that gained particular NYPD notoriety 40 years ago.
778 Driggs Avenue is the location where, in 1971, Patrolman Frank Serpico, then assigned to Narcotics Unit#7, was shot in the face during an attempted drug bust.

Serpico, of course, gained notoriety when, during the Knapp Commission hearings, he came forward and told his tale of corruption occurring within the Police Department at the time. His story was documented in a best selling book, Serpico, as well as a hit movie of the same name.

It was in the early morning of February 3, 1971 that Serpico was shot.

Serpico and his two partners were conducting a drug surveillance operation at 778 Driggs Avenue (between S4 and S3 streets, Williamsburg; 90 Pct) when they followed a junkie into, and then out of this building. The apparent drug sale was conducted out of Apartment #3G, on the 3rd floor.

The officers went to the suspect apartment. Serpico acted as the “undercover” and knocked on the door, with his partners secreted close by. The drug sale went bad, and shots were fired; Serpico was shot in the face by Edgar “Mambo” Echevaria.

His partners were able to drag him out of the building and drove him to what was then Greenpoint Hospital, which was located on Jackson Avenue and is now used as a Homeless Shelter. There were much uncorroborated and unverified inferences that Serpico was either “set up” by his partners because of his anti-corruption position, or that after he was shot they did not come to his aid quickly enough. Once again, though, I must add that neither of these “anonymous allegations” was ever proven to be anything more than “media conjecture”.

While still recovering from his wounds, he was promoted to Detective in May 1971 (Shield# 761). He was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Spring of 1972.

He never returned to the job, retiring shortly after with a medical disability. He is still alive, and lives in a very secretive and isolated lifestyle. Every once in a while he surfaces in a news story, often when allegations of corruption or other wrongdoing is involved.

Now 40 years after the incident, the building remains an occupied multiple dwelling. It has undergone some renovations and is attractive to the new population that is bringing Williamsburg a new life. It is currently covered in scaffolding as work on the fa├žade is being completed.


Terrorist Cop: The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Stop Terrorists
by Mordecai Dzikansky and Robert Slater

Mordecai Dzikansky, Retired Detective First Grade, spent his 25-year police career with the New York City Police Department.
This book is described as “a colorful, haunting, and highly graphic tale”.

Dzikansky, who became a cop in 1983 and retired in 2008, was among the few Orthodox Jews ever on the force.

A Brooklyn native, Dzikansky's career began as a uniformed patrolman. Periods in the homicide and detective squads led to selection as a lead investigator of the then newly formed specialized Torah Task Force in 1993. He served also as a detective in the Midtown North Squad, before being assigned to the Manhattan South Homicide Squad in 1999.

From 2003 until 2007, Dzikansky was in Israel as the first NYPD Intelligence Division Overseas Liaison to the Israel National Police. His intelligence gathering and immediate relay of key information back to NYC enhanced the Department's ability to recognize, react to, and prevent or recover from terrorist acts.

Currently, Dzikansky lectures and consults to law enforcement and academics on global security and policing topics using his expertise to provide first-hand analysis of the current terror trends, lessons learned, and worldwide application to prevent and respond to terrorism. This is his first book.


Don’t be foolish and neglect to follow-up on your key pieces of evidence.

Don’t “assume” that a piece of evidence that was secured at a crime scene is being processed at the Lab for DNA evidence- check and verify! You should be able to answer an inquiry about your evidence with certainty, and not with a “I’m waiting to hear from the Lab” answer. You may be “waiting to hear” about evidence that the Lab is NOT processing!

If you have an important piece of evidence that may, after forensic examination, help to identify the culprit don’t wait for the Lab to send you results- call early. Speak with the PD Liaison at the Lab, and if possible get in touch with the Criminalist conducting the examination. Be sure that the lab technicians understand the value of the evidence and what it is that you are hoping to get from this piece of evidence.

If your investigation leads you to believe that the hat discarded on the street is the perp’s, then this information needs to be relayed to the Lab. At the same way, if you submitted a hat for exam and learn that it is the victim’s, then let them know that as well. There may be no reason to waste time, and resources, to test a hat for DNA when you know it’s your victims!

Communication is certainly a key ingredient when evidence is submitted for forensic examination.

Get ahead of the curve and contact the Liaison or anyone else that is necessary, and follow up on your evidence, to ensure positive results in your investigations.


Following my recent posting on this site regarding Police Officers assigned to “Plainclothes”, I have received some input from others providing some first hand knowledge and information.
Among these was the information received from a notable retiree who added the following.
“In the 50's and early 60's, if you had been assigned to Plainclothes, it was almost a complete bar from getting into the Detective Bureau".

It seems that the assignment in Plainclothes was not a favorable prerequisite for a Detective Bureau assignment, possibly because of the “suspected corruption”.

This same MOS noted how a local and well known business man thought he would do him a favor after a good arrest was made that prevented his wife from being robbed, and arranged for him to get an interview with the CO of the Division plainclothes.

He went on his interview but politely turned it down, saying he wanted to be a detective. The Inspector said, "Kid you should be a detective", and advised him to just tell the business man that they had the interview.

As things would happen, a few months later he made the Bureau with a field promotion after he and his partner made a good collar as radio car partners- a double homicide.

The PC at the time made a written notation on the Unusual that "this warrants DD" – a pretty sound recommendation for the Detective Division if there ever was one- and shortly after he and his partner were promoted to detective.

And the rest is history!


Joe Mannix paved the way for all of the TV private eyes we grew up with.

He was tough, bull-headed, good-looking, and had a flair for cool cars and fantastic sports coats.

We can see traces of Mannix in Rockford (think bright plaid and patterned sports jackets).

Magnum took the cool car theme to a whole new level, but it was Mannix who first pulled surveillance in a hey-look-at-me-stand-out-in-a-crowd car.

A Korean War veteran, Mannix knew how to maintain a level head. Whether he was careening down a dirt road in a snazzy convertible or engaged in gun-play with mobsters in ill-fitting, wide-collared, poly-blend suits, Mannix was solid. He’d readily throw a punch, rely on a hunch, and more often than not eschew technology and gadgets for a good old confrontation.

This rough-and-tumble Armenian-American detective was, in short, what every woman in the early seventies wanted. And yet, despite the passel of hot polyester-clad babes that strolled in and out of his life, Mannix, it seemed, was a bachelor’s bachelor, doomed to fly solo. Sharing his most intimate moments with his trusty and “oft-kidnapped” secretary Peggy.

Mannix put a modern face on the private eye of the postwar-noir era, bringing the fictional detective into the seventies with a clear nod to the genre. Mike Connors, the actor who brought Mannix to life, once said that somewhere out there "Mannix is still working.

There was a decency and a dignity about the man.


Every cigar smoker will, sooner or later, be faced with this dilemma.

A friend or relative, knowing your fancy of cigars, hands you as a gift what they believe to be the golden choice of cigar smokers- a Cuban cigar. Or, at least, what they believe to be a Cuban cigar.
One look at the label, though, tells you this is a counterfeit.
What do you say? Do you burst their bubble and tell them, “Thanks, but this is a fake”?

Or do you just thank them kindly, knowing that this is truly one of those cases when the thought is what counts- and not the gift! Probably the choice most of us have made.

Of course, if you believe that your friend is actually purchasing these at great cost, you will want to – gently, probably – let them know whoever they are purchasing these from is not reputable.

Not an easy thing to do, for sure.

If you’re lucky you realize the quality as soon as you receive the counterfeit; the label is so flawed that you know it’s not real. Sometimes it takes to actually light up to realize the subterfuge. Whether or not the label passes muster, once the cigar is lit the smoke, aroma and taste will surely give it away. If you’re lucky, the counterfeit is at least a “smokeable” alternative.

Alas, many of us have had to take the “put it out and throw it away right now” option. Oh, well. It’s the thought that counts, remember?

Why are Cuban cigars so expensive? And why are they in demand?

Goes back to Economics 101 – supply and demand.

The supply is low- and Cuban cigars have the notoriety of good quality tobacco, hence the demand is high, results in high cost. And attractiveness to counterfeiters.

What should you know about Cuban cigars, and how to spot the fakes?

All Cuban cigars are called Habanos, and are controlled by a government corporation of the same name. Cigars are collected each day from the various factories and sent to the Habanos warehouse to await distribution. Located throughout the world are authorized Habanos dealers who get a large portion of these cigars, although the quantities shipped represent only a small proportion of what the dealer’s desire. A much smaller portion of the factory output is divided amongst the 20 or so domestic cigar stores, almost all of which are located in Havana.

Every week or two, the Havana stores receive an allotment of cigars, mostly small cigars but also a few of the large models (robustos, churchills, torpedoes, double coronas) that everybody is looking for.

You cannot hop a plane to Havana on a whim and buy any cigar you want. Large-size cigars are very difficult to find. Relatively few are produced, and only a fraction is sold in Cuba. Spread these precious few around to all the domestic and international dealers vying for them, and you can understand why few store-bought Cuban cigars ever reach America.

While it is possible to buy Cuban cigars in countries such as Mexico and Canada and then resell them in America, there is minimal profit in buying a box in Mexico for, say, $325, and reselling it for $400. Tobacco taxes usually nullify this third-country concept in every country but one: Spain. Factor into the equation the risk of losing cigars to customs, and it becomes clear that reselling cigars bought abroad doesn't make much business sense. Smugglers are interested only in making money, and their preferred method is to buy a box of counterfeit cigars for $30 in Havana and sell it for $400 in the States.

Even if they wanted to buy legitimate Habanos they couldn't, since there aren't enough available. Store prices in Cuba have recently risen 40%, forcing even more smugglers to the dark side in an attempt to maintain large profit margins.

Thus, the counterfeit cigar business is booming. Hundreds of street hustlers in Havana will offer to sell cigars to anyone who doesn't look Cuban. The more sophisticated smugglers operate large private factories that turn out thousands of boxes of the top brands, although the tobacco quality and construction of these cigars will never approach the strict quality standards of a real Cuban factory.

The Cuban police are trying to control the situation, but so far they are losing the battle. Additionally, some of these illicit cigar factories have sprung up in Central America, where there is an abundance of good rollers and tobacco. The cigars are shipped to the U.S. as non-Cubans and re-packed in counterfeit Cuban boxes.

The bottom line is that the cigar craze in America has awakened a deep thirst for Cuban cigars, which has spawned a whole underground industry. Unfortunately, the counterfeiters are getting better and better at their craft.

Excellent site for verifying the validity of your “Cuban” cigar:
The following is also a good site to look at regarding the methods to use when inspecting your cigar gift:


Although this site has not been updated in some recent time, you could spend hours looking over the material that is on it including the excellent photographs included in the site.

Take a look, and bookmark:



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

Note to readers: You can conduct a “search” on this Blog for “Bilodeau” for more information on PO Robert Bilodeau who was killed in the line of duty on February 12, 1980. Bilodeau was awarded his second Medal of Honor posthumously after this incident.

Readers are also encouraged to send comments, suggestions and criticisms to the Minister of Investigation at: