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Remo Franceschini

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A Matter of Honor: One Cop's Lifelong Pursuit of John Gotti and the Mob
Remo Franceschini  More Info

About the New York Police Department 

The first law-enforcement officer began to patrol the trails and paths of New York City when it was known as New Amsterdam, and was a Dutch settlement and fort in the year 1625. This lawman was known as a "Schout – fiscal" (sheriff – attorney) and was charged with keeping the peace, settling minor disputes, and warning colonists if fires broke out at night. The first Schout was a man named Johann Lampo.


The Rattle Watch was a group of colonists during the Dutch era (1609 - 1664) who patrolled from sunset until dawn. They carried weapons, lanterns and wooden rattles (that are similar to the ratchet noisemakers used during New Year celebrations). The rattles made a very loud, distinctive sound and were used to warn farmers and colonists of threatening situations. Upon hearing this sound, the colonists would rally to defend themselves or form bucket-brigades to put out fires. The rattles were used because whistles had not yet been invented. The Rattle Watchmen also are believed to have carried lanterns that had green glass inserts. This was to help identify them while they were on patrol at night (as there were no streetlights at that time). When they returned to their Watch House from patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to show that the Watchman was present in the Watch House. Today, green lights are still hung outside the entrances of Police Precincts as a symbol that the "Watch" is present and vigilant.


When the High Constable of New York City, Jacob Hays retired from service in 1844, permission was granted by the Governor of the state to the Mayor of the City to create a Police Department. A force of approximately 800 men under the first Chief of Police, George W. Matsell, began to patrol the City in July of 1845. They wore badges that had an eight-pointed star (representing the first 8 paid members of the old Watch during Dutch times). The badges had the seal of the City in their center and were made of stamped copper.





Remo Franceschini career in the New York Police Department spanned from 1957 to 1991. He worked in a variety of specialized units, spending his last 14 years working in a squad assigned to the Queens District Attorney. According to Franceschini, he was the first NYPD detective to determine the structure of the New York Costa Nostra. Throughout his career, Remo Franceschini was responsible for arresting dozens of Mafia gangsters.  His book, A Matter of Honor: One Cop's Lifelong Pursuit of John Gotti and the Mob, tells the story of his career.

Kirkus reviews said of A Matter of Honor: One Cop's Lifelong Pursuit of John Gotti and the Mob, “A former top cop's rough-and-tumble memoir of mob-busting in the NYPD. Franceschini is all business--certainly on these outspoken pages, where he tells us little about his personal life but more than most cop-memoirists do about the hazards of cop life; and apparently on the job as well, where as head of the Queens D.A.'s Squad he won a no-nonsense reputation. His long NYPD tenure (1957- 91) saw great changes in police work: ``In [1957] we controlled the streets''--and Franceschini pins blame for today's soaring crime rate squarely on Supreme Court rulings, especially Mapp v. Ohio, which required probable cause for searches; after Mapp, ``criminals didn't worry about us the way they always had, the way they always should have.'' The bad guys the author fought changed too, with new mobs arising (he devotes a chapter to the Colombian and Chinese mobs) and with Mafia reins slipping from the hands of the strong and silent ``Moustache Petes'' like Carlo Gambino to the ``Young Turks'' led by John Gotti. Franceschini's mob-hunting started early (he helped i.d. N.Y.C.'s five Mafia families) and was interrupted only by a late-60's stint spent tracking Weathermen and Black Panthers. By the early 80's, the author had zeroed-in on Gotti's dark star and, here, devotes much space to bugging (figuratively and literally) the Godfather, including breaking into his headquarters and suborning his chauffeur. Franceschini's Gotti is charismatic but terrifying: ``Gotti's face was all contorted. It was twitching like something inside was trying to claw its way out....'' The author traces Gotti's fall to his acting more like a street capo than a don, and he predicts that Thomas Gambino, Carlo's son, will likely succeed Gotti as head of the Gambino family. Tough-talking and full of intrigue--a far more involving ride than, say, top-narc Robert M. Stutman's comparable Dead on Delivery (1992).”

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