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Interview

Albert A. Seedman

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. This issue features an interview with Albert A. Seedman, former Chief of Detectives of the NYPD. His memoir Chief! has just been released as an ebook. It talks about many of his cases, from mafia hits to crimes of passion, and how he solved them...

It must be satisfying for 92-year-old Albert Seedman when he looks back on his career.
Looking back on the cases he solved must be like watching the tv mini-series Martin Scorsese never made.
Mr Seedman retired as Chief of Detectives of the New York Police Department in 1972, after 30 years service in the NYPD.
He has attended the scenes of nearly 2000 murders.
Many of his cases are related in his memoir, Chief! co-authored with Peter Hellman, which was first published in 1974.
Recently it was released as an ebook, and Chief! can be purchased in hard copy or ebook form at http://www.amazon.com/Chief-Albert-Seedman/dp/0380003589.
I’d recommend it highly to anyone in the police, particularly detectives, or anyone interested in what New York was like from the 1940s to the 1970s.
I spoke to Mr Seedman, who now lives in Miami, Florida.
He has three great-grandchildren (they call him Pop-Pop).
He was a very good listener, and had an enquiring mind. Obviously a very sharp guy.
He had his own modus operandi when investigating murders.
“I tried to imagine who was in the room one second before the murder,” he said.
Then he’d point the investigation in the right direction and leave the footwork to other NYPD detectives: his time was better served elsewhere.
The 500-page memoir Chief! is full of stories about Mr Seedman’s cases: a revenge hit by the mafia at a restaurant in Manhattan; the Weathermen in Greenwich Village; the murder of a child at Coney Island; the murder of two police by armed robbers in Brooklyn; the ambush murders of police by the Black Panthers and crimes of passion. The stories are told in a straightforward, conversational style.
In one case, a middle-aged woman was shot dead in a small apartment building at Flatbush Avenue. Mr Seedman arrived and looked at the body: one leg had been shot off, and her shopping was scattered on the floor. Mr Seedman made a couple of inferences.
The case was solved quickly, with another gruesome discovery.
Chief! also includes some fascinating cases from Mr Seedman’s time in France and Belgium, working for the military police just after D-Day during WW2.
It’s also interesting reading about Mr Seedman’s upbringing and family in the South Bronx. His father was a much-loved taxi driver who often made very little money; his mother was a sewing machine operator in the garment district. It’s a nice look into the life of a close New York family.
Mr Seedman witnessed some pretty horrific crime scenes in his career, which raises the question of how he dealt with what he saw.
“The answer to that particular question is I never identified with anything that I saw at the scene,” he said. “It never was anything personal with me. If I saw a human being cut into pieces I never felt the slightest bit of emotion. I didn’t let that happen. And I think that was the reason that I was able to go to all these scenes and come away with some positive information.”

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-copyright Simon Sandall
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