A Rookie Mistake

You’ve been introduced to my maternal grandfather in a previous post, NYPD Blue: George Benedict Latchford. By all accounts he was a well-respected officer who served the New York City Police Department with distinction for about 32 years, from 1926 to 1958.

But his rookie year had some interesting ups and downs. In October 1926, just a few months after joining the force, he participated in a well-publicized interrogation of a fur thief. The episode was covered in the October 19, 1926, edition of the New York Daily News.

NYTimesArticle001Just a few months later, in January 1927, Patrolman Latchford was part of another well-publicized incident, this one a low point in the rookie officer’s first year. It probably didn’t help that the episode was covered in the January 13, 1927, edition of The New York Times under the headline, “Policemen Lose Pistols in Hold-Up.” One of the sub-headlines further trumpets, “Two Bluecoats Are Surprised While Eating a Meal–Both Are Suspended.”

You can click on the image of the article here to read the entire account, but the gist of it is that my grandfather and his partner, Patrolman Thomas E. McCormack, were seated at a table in the deli while “their overcoats and belts containing their pistols were on a near-by hook.” Robbers entered the deli, covered the policemen with pistols, took their firearms and shields and $50 from one of the patrolmen, emptied the cash register and left.

To make matters worse, the article claims that while McCormack was on the regular relief period of half an hour allowed for meals, Latchford was off post without permission. The pair was suspended by NYPD Commissioner McLaughlin.

Chalk it up to a rookie mistake. Things got better as his excellent police work was recognized in subsequent years.  Just four years later, Patrolman Latchford received a grade advancement that was recorded in the May 21, 1931, edition of The New York Times. And he was recognized for “Excellent Police Duty” in 1942, as recorded in the July 13, 1942, edition of The New York Times. Click on the articles here to read.

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