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Albert A. Seedman p3

Albert A. Seedman talks about informants, detectives and cites one of his favorite books...

Albert Seedman probably knows every street in the five boroughs of New York. He grew up in the South Bronx, and he was based all over New York in his career: Brooklyn North in 1960, Queens in 1963, Brooklyn South in 1966. He took command of Manhattan South detectives in 1969.
“I worked in every part of the city of New York. And I knew my way around pretty good. I knew the type of people who inhabited various parts of the city. I knew their neighbourhoods. I knew their customs.”
I wondered if he accumulated contacts and sources, like journalists.
“You’re talking about informants. I didn’t have any. I once tried to cultivate one. I caught him at a crime scene doing a burglary or something if I remember correctly. And I figured I’d try to cultivate this guy, and I said ‘I’ll come down to court and I’ll talk you up and get you a lighter sentence. But I want you to become a confidential informant. And if you know anybody who does hold ups of banks or of different types of businesses, tip me off when and where, I’ll see you get some money for it’ or whatever.
“So I gave him my personal phone number. I figured if he was going to be any good he’d call me in the middle of the night. I got a call one night. He was in custody. He had been committing a crime and he was in custody. And he told the police officers who had him in custody that he was working for me. So I got the call from the police. They said ‘Is this guy working for you? What do you want to do with him?’ I said ‘Lock him up and throw the key away’.”
And what makes a good detective?
“Well, I used to say the best uniformed police officer is going to make the best detective. I believed that. And it was my practice to visit the various police stations throughout the city and I’d go in to see the commanding officer, and I knew all these people… I got to know the commanding officers, and I’d sit down with one of them and I’d say ‘Give me the names of the two best policemen in your precinct’. And I very often would get the names, I’d check the guys’ background, and I’d call them down for an interview and I’d promote them to detective.”
How do they judge what makes a good police officer?
“It’s activity. Number of arrests. Percentage of convictions against the arrests. Type of arrests.”
In the new edition of Chief!, Mr Seedman says he eventually left the police in 1972 after 30 years in the NYPD, because he was frustrated by the lack of investigation into the murder of police officer Philip W. Cardillo in a mosque in Harlem.
He said that someone was eventually tried for the crime and found not guilty.
He said the Cardillo case was now closed.
As for his favorite reading, he cited a novel he said he’d read about half a dozen times. “The name of the book is The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.”
Chief! can be bought as an ebook or in hard copy at http://www.amazon.com/Chief-Albert-Seedman/dp/0380003589.

-copyright Simon Sandall