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Thomas McKenna

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Thomas McKenna, a 30 veteran of NYPD, in his book “Manhattan North Homicide: Detective First Grade Thomas McKenna NYPD,” tells about the crimes he helped solve while a homicide detective.  Several of the cases are familiar, high-profile cases such as “the Central Park jogger,” the preppie murder,” and “Baby Maldonado.”


One reader of Manhattan North Homicide said, “The 240 pages in this very readable book cover the highlights in the career of Detective First Grade McKenna and his thirty years in the NYPD. He shares his thoughts while discussing many of his interesting cases. The book reads like a TV series waiting to happen. The 14 chapters tell of the events behind the newspaper stories.

Chapter 1 tells of the Central Park Jogger attacked in April 1989. Page 9 tells that if a suspect denies being at the scene of the crime, he has something to hide. Perhaps there's another reason for not getting involved? Detective McKenna got a confession that resulted in a conviction. But in 2003 the DNA evidence caused their release from jail, and exoneration. "There was no physical evidence". Is there a lesson to be learned? Should anyone be convicted on a disputed confession when there is no other evidence? But it happens.


When crimes occur, Detectives show up after to gather the statements of eyewitnesses, and begin their investigation. Sometimes they get information from people who were not there. After spending hours and days the facts emerge to point to the suspects. They are tracked down, arrested, then convicted. Detective McKenna emphasizes that "police work is all teamwork". Many of the crimes just happen by opportunity; there are few masterminds in street crime. One exception is on page 40. After you read this book you can turn to the classic Hammett and Chandler short stories with a new viewpoint.”

Manhattan North Homicide (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
Thomas McKenna  More Info

About the New York Police Department (NYPD):

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.





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