by John Paolucci


As I sat silently enjoying the quiet predawn moments, stillness was shattered by a rooster’s crow. I said a prayer for peace and hoped that I would make it home to spend Christmas with my family. Then out of nowhere, I heard a voice from afar and it was speaking directly to me!

“Housing 9225, respond to 10-54 unconscious at 3-1-5 East 1-4-3 apartment 3 Charlie.” An “unconscious” is often a DOA, so I envisioned my Christmas plans evaporating since in those days it could take up to 12 hours for the detectives and ME’s investigator to check the location and the body for signs that might point to a homicide. Then the “meat wagon” would have to come to take the body away and with approximately 2,000 homicides a year it was hard to get a meat wagon. By the time I signed out I’d be able to get a couple hours sleep before I had to be back in uniform for the next tour, so I called my family and told them to have Christmas without me again.

Housing-I.D.-Crop-300x198My “problems” vanished instantly when the family in 3 Charlie opened the door. A woman clad in a nightgown lay motionless in front of a Christmas tree under which presents were labeled with young children’s scrawling “M-O-M”. I felt guilty that my plans were so important to me that I neglected to think about this family. Those teary, wide eyes looked at me, the police, for hope and I wanted to cry, but you never can, so I called for a rush on the ambulance and felt the cold skin of the mother as I attempted to find a carotid pulse.



addThat same stillness could be felt once the order “Present arms” was called, but now the sun was shining and instead of only my partner and a South Bronx rooster there were approximately 25,000 men and women from all over the world standing in formation, assembled to say goodbye to Police Officer Rafael Ramos who was murdered as he sat in his patrol car.

The previous days were anything but still with angry protesters and angry cops. For the first time in 3 years, I regretted being retired and wished I were back in uniform, mentoring a squad of young cops who know they are all targets for assassins. I was hurt, sad, angry and even vengeful.

add3Over the loud speaker I heard the minister quote Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I saw how the Ramos family put their pain aside and, with forgiveness, shed light on one of the darkest times in New York City’s history.

Cops will go back to work and do their job with professionalism and courtesy that will add4never be seen, but make one mistake and they’re media stars. Protesters will keep protesting, and my question to them is “What is the result you are trying to achieve?”

You called for justice and the officers were put In front of Grand Juries. You called for reform and the president promised body cameras while the mayor began to retrain the entire NYPD. Both politicians consulted with Al Shaprton, who knows nothing about forgiveness. Some of you called for dead cops and you even got that. If you want peace, heed Gandhi’s wisdom and “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”


Please click here to view John Paolucci’s previous posts:

Dead Body at the Crime Scene – What Forensic Value Does It Have?

New York City Housing Police: A Bygone Era Worth Talking About

Forensics Dispatch From New York City: Searching A House Of Horrors!

house2About the Author: John Paolucci is a retired Detective Sergeant from NYPD who worked his last eight years in the Forensic Investigations Division, four of them as a Crime Scene Unit supervisor. He was the first ever to command the OCME Liaison Unit where he managed all DNA evidence in NYC and trained thousands of investigators in DNA evidence collection and documentation. He developed a strong alliance between the OCME Forensic Biology Department and NYPD. He also worked as a Narcotics Undercover and Patrol Officer in the Housing Projects of the South Bronx. He is currently the president of Forensics 4 Real Inc., where he provides forensic support to private investigations, international and domestic. He also trains students and law enforcement in forensic evidence and crime scene investigations and provides consultations with movie and television writers, directors and developers working on real crime shows and dramas.


17 Responses to In the Wake of Senseless Deaths, Let Peaceful Change Begin with Me

  1. Paul G says:

    Great article, John. You ought to be put in charge of NYPD. Or how about running for Mayor?! You are the change we need to see in the world. Peace!

    • Hi Paul. Thanks very much for reading the article and your confidence in me. I can’t tell you how much your words mean. I’m thinking that I’ll pass on the politics! Glad to know I’d have one vote out there though! Peace to you as well.

  2. Judith says:

    Well said, my dear friend. “Peace” begins with those who have love and forgiveness in their hearts.

  3. Rick says:

    Good article, John. What are your thoughts on the current rift between certain segments of the NYPD and the Mayor? Do you believe that the Mayor is somehow responsible for the executions of the two NYPD officers by the crazy guy from Maryland? Why wasn’t that guy stopped before he could do his evil deed, as he was continuously being monitored with pings from his cell phone from the moment he boarded the bus in Maryland until he came across the officers?

    • Hi Rick. Thanks for reading the article. I’m not going to critique the investigation of the murderer because I only know what is being reported. It appears that all the protocols were followed and information went through the proper channels.

      Let me give you an analogy regarding your question about the cops and the mayor. Lets say tha when I was a sergeant in the projects of central Harlem, I held roll calls where I told my cops that the people in the projects were out to kill them, and then talked about how many cop killers have been acquitted, then turned my back and enabled them to commit minor assaults on the residents and maintained a total “Hands Off” management style – and things escalated to the point where one of my cops kills a resident, would you assign me any culpability?

      This is very similar. The mayor and president should have stood up and said that the cops were put in front of our justice system and people need to accept the verdicts and move on. The mayor allowed total anarchy to ensue by ordering the cops to be “Hands off” with the protesters and they were hit, spit on and beaten while the city streets were taken over. He then fueled the fire with anti-cop rhetoric and talked about how he fears for his son’s safety should he meet a cop on the streets, as well as making statements about how the police are unfairly targeting minorities and minority communities. Is he “directly” responsible? No. Did he recklessly create an environment where police were in more danger than usual with his words and orders to allow people to disregard the law and fueling their fury? My opinion, based on my many years of dealing with the public, is “yes”.

      • Rick says:

        Thanks for answering those questions, John. As a former police officer, you have a perspective that most of us don’t have.

      • Lise LaSalle says:

        But isn’t it anarchy and totally immature for some cops to turn their back to the Mayor and rebel against the authority and the President? Is it what peaceful leaders would have preached?
        There is a crisis going on and police officers are on the forefront and cannot expect to be cuddled.

        Aren’t they civil servants after all?

        Your analogy is not about a protest, but about assaults. The cops have been so brutal during some of the protests that the Mayor was asking for a peaceful approach like Ghandi would have.
        The Mayor is not responsible for the 2 NY officers being killed by a mentally ill person.

        It was a tough call and it’s up to the officers to accept the authority even if they don’t like it. They could have shown their discontent during mature negotiations and not by fuelling their already bad reputation as rogue officers.

        • Rick says:

          Very well said, Lise! In my opinion, despite all of the hullabaloo by right wingers and Fox News, the comments of AG Eric Holder, Mayor DeBlasio, and President Obama in the wake of the non-indictment of the officer who choked Eric Garner to death were actually very measured and TAME. Here is the text of their remarks:

          Said Holder:

          “All lives must be valued. All lives. Mr. Garner’s death is one of several recent incidents across our great country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and to protect. This is not a New York issue nor a Ferguson issue alone. Those who have protested peacefully across our great country following the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson have made that very clear.”

          President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio reacted swiftly to the news of the grand jury’s decision.

          De Blasio became emotional during the press conference, telling reporters that he had to warn his own son about police officers that may not be out to protect him.

          Said De Blasio:

          “This is profoundly personal to me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens….And I said to him I did. Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him—as families have all over this city for decades—in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”

          Said Obama in a separate statement:

          “We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement.”

          I’d like someone to point out to me any portion of the above remarks that somehow is anti-police or anti-law enforcement. Yes, the statements eloquently express the unacceptability of police brutality but what’s wrong with that? The last time that I checked, we are still a democracy (at least in form) and individuals have certain constitutional rights, including the right not to be killed for no good reason by overzealous police officers. I agree that being a cop is a very tough and necessary job. However, that circumstance does not give a cop carte blanche to be judge, jury, and executioner unless he/she reasonably believes that a suspect poses a serious threat to their life or the lives of others.

          • Lise LaSalle says:

            I totally agree Rick and thank you for posting them. Their speeches were very measured, supportive and dignified.

  4. Ron Pennington says:

    Well said John. Our leaders need to emulate your thoughts. Thanks for stepping up and stepping out.

    • Thanks very much Ron! I wish they would learn from this as I’ve learned from you and Jim through the years. Ego won’t allow them to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” unfortunately.

  5. Anne Shaul says:

    Good article, John! It’s clear you have a future in politics if you want one!

  6. Vincent Colombo says:

    John and All Who Have Commented So Far,

    You don’t know how refreshing it is to read civil thoughtful discourse on this sad subject.

    Great job!

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