Post 13 Trivia – Beame a shrimp! Codd a fish!
John Young, Patrolman
Intra-PBA politics during in the 1970’s became very stormy after Ken McFeeley took office, with several factions contesting for leadership positions in what had been one of the city’s most powerful unions. In December 1974, former board officers put together a group that called themselves a more “Responsive P.B.A” but later adopted the name “New Breed” in March 1975, and finally became the “Bluecoats” in May 1975.
June 1975: The Council for Public Safety (McFeeley & Vizzili) printed hand bills that were aimed at tourists and politicians. There was only one problem in that the pamphlets themselves were great, if you happened to be the ACLU wanting to take a piece of a cop. In effect, the pamphlets stated that crime was rampant in New York, and the cops did nothing about it. A single page hand-out started with, “Good Morning! Wake up New York – if you haven’t been mugged yet…or your life is in danger.” Each page went on to give crime statistics and asked the public to sign petitions in order to save the jobs of 4,000 policemen. I assume others were asked to save the jobs of firefighters.
A four pager with a hooded skull entitled, “A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York,” gave nine suggestions made up by firefighters and police officers that were intended to help the visitor enjoy the city. Following are some guidelines that were suggested: Stay off the streets after 6:00PM; Do not walk (call a cab); Avoid public transportation and remain in Manhattan. I love the last one, as police and fire protection in other areas of the city was grossly inadequate and would become more inadequate.
One truth mentioned, in the south Bronx (known to police officers as Fort Apache) that arson had become an uncontrollable problem. My guess is that someone unfamiliar with the Bronx must have written that one. Everyone knows that the 41st precinct was Fort Apache.
June 30, 1975 (Monday): At the stroke of midnight, 5,000 cops got their pink slips. Two years earlier a judge ruled in our Taylor Law fine case that policemen were not in fear of layoffs, and therefore had no right to strike. It was last man hired, first man fired. I remember one Viet Nam veteran did not get his veteran’s points because he enlisted in New Jersey. To get veteran’s points you had to enlist in the State of New York.
The laid-off cops were told to apply for unemployment insurance ($95 per week) and if that was not sufficient, they should apply for public assistance. Public assistance included Medicaid benefits (hospital, medical, drugs) and food stamps. One page listed Food Stamp Application Centers within the city.
July 4, 1975 (Thursday): 2,000 cops were restored under Pers. Bur Memo #26s. 1975. Those scheduled for 1st & 3rd platoons were rescheduled to the 2nd Platoon for the purpose of retrieving their firearms and other department equipment. Late tour personnel finished the day tour while the 3rd platoon was paid 4 hours (recall) and subsequently worked 4×12 tour, same day. Hope those discharged reservists working Independence Day put in for a day back.
Commissioner Codd spent two years as a New York State Trooper before entering NYPD in September 1941. In 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army while assigned to the 20th Precinct and served on active duty until 1946, attaining the rank of Major. Codd retired from the Army Reserve in 1965, with the rank of Colonel. He was Chief Inspector under Pat Murphy. That rank would change to Chief of Operations and then to Chief of the Department.
Codd was the champion of civilianizing administrative and clerical tasks to free more police officers for field duty with the Field Services Bureau. It had been rumored that he informed Beame that he could run the department without the 5,000 police officers.
During his first month, Codd made unannounced visits to precinct station houses. One Saturday night, he visited either the 45 or 43 station house shortly after midnight. Nobody yelled “attention” and station house security failed to recognize him. Two days later, framed photographs of Codd were hung on the sitting room walls of every station house in the five boroughs. Codd’s legacy: Modified assignment, photos on the wall and allowing Patrolman Cardillo’s murderer(s) to go free.
Most of us blamed Ben Ward (then Deputy Commissioner Community Affairs) for allowing the 16 suspects in the Mosque #7 (Patrolman Cardillo) shooting to go free. However, it appears that former Chief of Detectives Al Seedman had taken responsibility for allowing the suspects to go free. Depending on which source, there are two stories: One in his updated autobiography (2011) where the former chief gave the real reason for his retirement two weeks after the shooting (Leonard Levitt 5/20/13) and the other in Peter Hellman’s Last Confession that appeared in the New York Post (4/29/12).
Levitt’s column stated that Seedman resigned because of a “feeling of betrayal over being ordered by Chief Inspector Codd, by phone, to get out of the mosque.” Before leaving, the Chief asked Congressman Charles Rangel to have the 16 suspects come to the precinct for questioning later that afternoon. Rangel claimed he never made such a promise.
Seedman’s story to the Post reporter was that he had been on the phone trying to get two bus loads of police academy recruits with nightsticks for crowd control. Permission was denied by Codd and he hung up. Chief Seedman called him back and was told that the Chief Inspector was out to lunch. Seedman publicity blamed Codd (2011) but suggested Pat Murphy and Mayor Lindsay were calling the shots and told Codd what to do.
Who to believe? Codd passed away in 1995, Ward in 2002. Looks like Ben Ward took the rap for Codd. Feelings towards Ward within the department at the time then became so hostile that Bob McKiernan wrote in “Front & Center” that Ward should resign or be fired. When Ed Koch named Ward as his P.C. (1983), a document known as the “Blue Book” named Seedman as the person who made the decision to release the suspects to stem a riot outside the mosque. The department’s own internal investigation of the shooting was found by Newsday reporter, Gerald McKelvey.
TO BE CONTINUED