Sunday, March 18, 2012

There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments...
The Beatles 
I’ve just wound down from some heck of a week!
It’s been a heck of a time and with very little regrets and a touch of sadness I concluded my over 30 years of policing in the City of New York on Thursday, March 15, 2012!  My accrued time will carry me through until the end of August, but I am departing and turning a page to start a new chapter in my book of life.
I am changing roles- going from the role of Kojak to the role of Mannix - I will be taking a position as the director of investigations for Squad Security and Investigations; a small company with some big name clients thats been in business for over 21 years.  I will be working with my ex-detective partner, Michael Sapraicone, who is the President of Squad Security.
Based on Wall Street, with offices in LA and London, this provides a great opportunity for me - one that was too good to pass up.  I will have much to do to keep me from spending too much leisure time in this “retirement”!
It was 30 years ago on March 15, 1982 that I graduated from the Police Academy.
My how time has flown. Could it really be?
I entered the department, getting sworn in on October 20, 1981 as a member of the largest class the Transit Police Department had seen in many years! We were bringing a lifeline to a depleted department and a crime-prone transit system. As they say, the rest is history.
Uniform patrol working 8pm-4am lasted a few months, until the next class came out of the Academy, and I was able to move into District 33. Plainclothes in the conditions team and then anti-crime was a springboard to the Citywide Task Force, where I was teamed up with Jim Capaldo- a great cop who would eventually soar to Inspector in OCCB, where he remains, as 1 of only 5 remaining members of my Academy Class that are still on the job.  I was chosen to be part of the brand new Decoy Unit, continuing to work with Jim and a group of some of the best cops there were, before being selected as a white shield into the Detective Division. 
Promotion to Detective, and working in the Detective Division with some fine people has led to some life-long friendships (one of which I am now going to work for!).  Fine tuning detective skills seemed easy with such a group that I was fortunate to work with.  Some fine investigative cases including the arrest of the pair of crooks that tried robbing the Intervale Avenue train station and burned the station down in an inferno along the way, and a Combat Cross during the apprehension of a group of pattern token-booth robbers in East New York were a few of the more memorable times. A start of a long investigative career, for sure.
Promotion to Sergeant saw me work 4 tours in uniform before being injured in a collar during a car chase and shots-fired by and at, but my stay on the sick list lasted no more than 4 days when I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in starting up a “new” Decoy Unit, working under Lt John Maple and that was to become one of the major crime fighting strategies of the newly appointed Transit Chief, Bill Bratton.  I couldn’t get myself off the sick list and back to work fast enough! 
Decoy operations took off again with a tremendous impact on crime on the subway, and provided me with an opportunity to work with some very fine police officers along the way. It also has provided me with more than enough stories to keep me busy at anytime someone will listen!
Moving into the Robbery Squad as a Sergeant saw me working with some of the same detectives I shared an office with before, and was a nice change to get back to the investigative process. 
My promotion to Lieutenant saw me move back to patrol, in District 4 at Union Square, for a short time before taking over as the Special Operations Lieutenant. The year spent the included involvement in the crazed subway bomber whose package exploded on the #4 train, and an off-duty NYPD PO shooting and injuring an on-duty plainclothes Transit PO in midtown. 
The merge of the police departments in 1995 had me answering a phone call asking if I could put together a training program for NYPD Detective Supervisors on what they would need to know about “Investigative Crime on the Transit System”. When that mission was completed I became the C.O. of the Kings Warrant Squad, and when Brooklyn Warrants was split into North and South commands when the pilot project SATCOM Brooklyn North was created, I became the Commander of the Brooklyn North Warrant Squad. (SATCOM was the acronym for Strategic And Tactical Command; a pilot  project that combined all resources- detectives, patrol, narcotics, etc. under the direct command of the Borough Commander; a project that worked well during its time but was destined to be nothing more than a “project” from the beginning). 
The 77 Detective Squad and then the 75 Detective Squad honed my skills before taking over the command of Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, ten years ago in May 2002.
A career that through its thirty years has been based on the investigative process, but had enough variety to keep it interesting along the way.  
I spent ten years as the C.O. of the Homicide Squad, a length of time that I had never spent in any one command before.  I was a Lieutenant for 13 years - 13! - a pretty long time in any one rank, for sure.  I figured sooner or later I would get things right!!
Memories are grand, and I have so many fond ones that I could never finish writing them on this forum. People ask me if there is a book in the works; I ask them in reply, “Would you read it? Who would read a book that I wrote?” Perhaps memories fade over time, but I doubt the ones have have any expiration.
What won’t I miss?
As I have said before on this site, I will not miss driving up and down Bushwick Avenue!!  I’m not a traffic engineer, but I cannot understand how no one in the employ of the City Of New York Traffic Department has not figured out that you could increase traffic flow 75% during morning and evening rush hours by preventing all left turns except at a few major intersections! If anyone reading this has the power to put this idea into someones hands that can do something about this, then all the power to you. No, I won’t miss Bushwick Avenue.
I have had a great career here in policing. I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I hope along the way I have been able to pass on some good advice to others, and make an offer to be there to answer your questions in the future.
This job is as good as you want it to be. Hearing rookies- young cops - complain about the job just turns my stomach. I have always believed that if you don’t like it here, find something else to do. Don’t stay here and be miserable; there’s no reason for that. I am happy and confident that I am leaving while I still feel the same; I am taking an offer that was too good to pass up, but my heart will always remain in Brooklyn, with the men and women of the NYPD that I have had the pleasure of working with.
Stay safe. Share your knowledge with others; you never know the good you may be doing.

I have used this phrase in explaining my career change to others.
While it makes perfect sense to many, I also realize it’s dated.  
Kojak has pretty much withstood the test of time, although that is also fading as those who have recollection of seeing this TV show dwindle.  But Mannix? Well, the base of those who recall Mannix on TV is dwindling even more as you get outside a certain age group (which I neither wish to identify or even acknowledge!).
That being said, who exactly is Mannix?
Mannix was the name of the television series that ran from 1967 through 1975 on CBS, starring Mike Connors in the lead role as private investigator Joe Mannix.
The show evolved after the first season, which saw Mannix working for a Los Angeles PI firm known as Intertect, into the next and succeeding seasons where he ran his own PI agency in LA.
It was somewhat breaking ground as the use of computers to solve crimes played a large part in the show. Mannix also had a telephone in his car.
As opposed to the other employees who must wear dark suits and sit in rows of desks with only one piece of paper allowed to be on their desk at one time, Mannix belongs to the classic American detective archetype and thus usually ignores the computers' solutions, disobeys his boss's orders and sets out to do things his own way. He wears plaid sport coats and has his own office that he keeps sloppy between his assignments. 
From the second season on, Mannix worked on his own with the assistance of his loyal secretary Peggy Fair, a police officer's widow who was one of the first African-American  actresses to have a regular series role. In the series she was the widow of a police partner that Mannix worked with, and she played a starring role as his administrative assistant and friend.
A Korean war veteran, Mannix always seemed to be fending off attacks in one form or another.  If it wasn’t from his Army buddies with homicidal impulses it was from the street crooks he was hired to find.

Many TV detectives are identified with one particular car. Columbo had his Peugeot, Magnum had his Ferrari, and Rockford had his Firebird. However, Mannix drove several different cars throughout the series run: an Olds Toronado, Dodge Dart, Plymouth Cuda, Dodge Challenger, and a Chevrolet Camaro.
Recently I found a Mannix television marathon on an obscure cable channel, Antenna TV, that airs television shows from the 60’s and 70’s (when your tv reception relied on the antenna you had).  I think every episode of Mannix had him either being hit over the head when he walked into a room or from behind by a protagonist, or had him involved in a gunfight. Is this what PI life is really like?
Joe Mannix is notable for taking a lot of physical punishment. During the course of the series he is shot and wounded over a dozen separate times, or is knocked unconscious around 55 times. Mannix frequently took brutal beatings to the abdomen; some of these went on quite a long time, particularly by the television standards of the era. 
Whenever Mannix gets into one of his convertibles he can expect to be shot at from another car, run off the road by another car, or find his vehicle sabotaged. Nevertheless he keeps his cool and perseveres until his antagonists are brought down. 
Other Mannix trivia?  He lived at 7 Paseo Verde, in West Los Angeles.  Following military service in the Korean War, Mannix attended Western Pacific University on the GI Bill, graduated in 1955 and obtained his private investigator's license in 1956. In the first season he used a Walther PPK (a la James Bond) and subsequently a Colt snubnosed 38 calibre revolver.  

Tell me this won't make a great ringtone! 

Watch for an updated web site in the next few weeks!

I’d like to share a reflection that Frank Bolz shared with me.
He explained how the department is like a bucket of water, and your time here is a hand in the bucket. When you take your hand out of the water, the bucket fills in the space with the water around it.
Interesting analogy, for sure.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Frank for his friendship, for all that he has shared with me about this job, this department, and policing in general. Like a good uncle he has provided advice and anecdotes that were always helpful and accurate, and I thank him for sharing a friendship.  A friendship that started at the old Police Camp in Tannersville NY, me as a young teen running around and putting Steuben stickers everywhere (Frank was the Steuben President at the time, and although he did not encourage or urge us on, the publicity was surely nice!), and Frank as one of the friends of my father who had worked for a time in the “7-9”, where for a long time in my life I thought everyone in the PD worked at one time or another! 
I’d like to take a moment, as I reflect on a fine career, to remember some friends who are unable to share in this moment with me.
Irma “Fran Lozada, Glenn Davidson, Billy Barger, Gerry Howard, Mike Marinelli, Clem Olfano, John Cassidy, Jack Maple, John Barba, Timmy Duffy, Eddie Zigo, Sonny Archer...
These are jusy some of the people who I would have liked to have been able to share a toast with me this past Thursday.
Of all the money that ere I had, I spent it in good company.
And of all the harm that ere I’ve done, alas was done to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit, to memory now I cannot recall.
So fill me to the parting glass. Goodnight and joy be with you all.
Of all the comrades that ere I had, they’re sorry for my going away,
And of all the sweethearts that ere I had, they wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot that I should leave while you should not,
I will gently rise and I’ll softly call, “Goodnight and joy be with you all?”
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