April 25, 2010

A legendary cop

Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino

The following excerpt from 'Fortunate' Vallone taking a trip to Italy by Elizabeth Daley appeared in last week's edition of the Queens Chronicle, a local newspaper.
"Petrosino was investigating the Sicilian Mafia when he was killed in 1909. He was a highly regarded member of the police force during his time of service and ended up being good friends with Theodore Roosevelt, among other accomplishments."

Irked by this obviously dismissive handling of Detective Lt. Petrosino's many real accomplishments, Southern Italian nationalist Nicholas J. Narducci sent the Queens Chronicle the following letter, which was printed in their April 22nd edition.

Dear Editor:

In regards to your article concerning Peter Vallone Jr.'s upcoming trip to Italy (“‘Fortunate’ Vallone taking a trip to Italy,” April 15, Western Queens edition): You actually rate having been friends with Teddy Roosevelt an “accomplishment?”

NYPD Det. Lt. Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino had far more real accomplishments under his belt.  All of which, I might add, were omitted from your article. Allow me, please, to enlighten your readers.

He created the first police bomb squad in this country’s history.

After being promoted to lieutenant, he was put in charge of the NYPD’s elite Italian Squad to deal with the twin problems of the Cosa Nostra and the Black Hand in this city’s Italian-American community. He was so effective in this capacity that crime in New York’s Italian-American neighborhoods dropped an incredible 50 percent!  The Italian Squad (later called the Italian Legion) became the prototype for later organized crime task forces throughout the country.

He pioneered witness-protection and intelligence-gathering programs to aid law enforcement officials in their war on organized crime.  His group set up a vast network of both paid and unpaid informants. 

He rescued legendary Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso from the clutches of the Black Hand, who had been demanding monies from him in exchange for his life.

He uncovered convincing evidence that anarchists in upstate New York were plotting to murder President William McKinley.  He passed this information along to the Secret Service.  Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt vouched for Petrosino’s skills as a police investigator.  Tragically, McKinley ignored the warnings and was shot in Buffalo by Leon Czolgosz on Sept. 6, 1901, dying eight days later.

According to Petrosino, his greatest accomplishment was rescuing one Angelo Carboni from certain execution in the electric chair for murder by finding the real culprit and bringing him to justice.

As I stated earlier, it was these that were his real accomplishments, not merely being a drinking buddy of “Old Rough Rider.”

In all fairness to you, however, nowadays it’s not what you do but who you know that determines your status in society.  Just ask people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

Nicholas J. Narducci