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Interview

Albert A. Seedman p2

The woman in the box, a shooting on Belt Parkway and an explosion at a Greenwich Village townhouse...

I wondered if crime scenes became typical, in a way, and whether police knew who probably committed the crime as soon as they arrived: whether Mr Seedman ever reached a point where he’d seen it all.
“Every one is brand new and you’ll always be able to add to your accumulation of knowledge by going to new ones,” he said. “You add new information to your library all the time. You become a walking encyclopedia.”
He is big on learning. He studied French for a year before going to Europe in WW2. As a young man he studied accounting at New York City College. He would study for his sergeant’s exam while on patrol.
“My intention of going to the murder scene every time was to learn something about who committed this murder,” Mr Seedman said. “And more often than not I would come away from the scene with an idea of how to proceed on the investigation,” he said.
Eleven chapters in Chief! each focus on particular cases, all of which were solved, including:
July 8, 1967– A 17-year-old woman is driving a bright yellow Camaro along Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, heading west toward Manhattan. She is shot in the head and killed.
Mr Seedman arrived on the scene, and checked out the possibilities and improbabilities.
The cause of death turned out to be so bizarre that Mr Seedman has since been interviewed about it for a tv show about incredible events.
November 20, 1966 — In Red Hook, Brooklyn, 2.40 on Saturday morning, a man arrives home and finds a cardboard box in front of the stairway to the basement apartment he shares with his mother. He looks inside the box and finds a woman’s body.
March 6, 1970 — An explosion destroys a townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in Manhattan, cause unknown. The case turned out to involve a group known as the Weathermen.
Apart from the eleven cases recounted in depth, many other cases are related in Chief!.
He also talks about becoming Chief of Detectives of the New York Police Department in 1971. It was a high-profile job, for which Albert A. Seedman had a larger than life image. He stood out with his trademark cigar, tough-guy attitude, onyx pinky ring and stylish suits. I wondered if he created a Chief persona to protect himself from the public and the fame.
“I didn’t do any of this stuff consciously, but it was my style. I’ve been called flamboyant. I’ve been called colorful. I’ve been referred to as the last of the old-time Broadway-style detectives.
“When I was the Chief Detective of New York City, Chief of Detectives was the glamour job of the entire police force. That was the most glamorous job. So I think I fit into that particular mould, in my style of doing that job…
“In those days I used to smoke a lot of cigars.”

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-copyright Simon Sandall

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