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A Good Streak Ends

I was running on a good streak for eight years, every job a success. Babies were returned safe. People didn’t kill themselves, and bad guys put down their guns. Then I had a bad one, a wall street broker who was skimming money. When federal marshals came to arrest him at his posh thirty second floor apartment on 77th Street, I was the commanding officer of the 25th detective squad.

We started talking to him through the door.

He said, “Go away or I’ll jump. “

One senior official said, “Well, let his wife talk to him.”

She got up to the door and said , “Albert, you’re acting like an ass. Why don’t you come out?” Which completely flipped him.

We started telephone negotiations. I was talking with him, looking at him from another apartment across his terrace. He was facing a deal for him to turn hmself in. He knew he was going to be arrested, do ten years, be disgraced and lose everything, including his million dollar job.. He had nothing to live for. But I had him a few times.

He was saying, “OK, I’m going to come out now. I’m going to feed the dog, then I’ll come out.”

A good and a bad sign – good that they’re going to come out; bad that they start performing rituals. They just want to get washed. They just want to feed the dog. They just want to tidy up the loose ends, which happens a lot in suicides.

Tactically it was very difficult to get him. He was on a highrise terrace. Our team prepared to throw one of these cargo nets from the thirty third floor over the balcony to cops on the thirty first floor who would try to pull it tight against his ledge.

We talked for about seven hours, up and down. Yes, he was on my side. No, he can’t come because there was nothing to live for.

He had decided to come out three times. Each time I walked over to the other building and knocked on the door.

He’d say, “Who is it?”

I’d say, “It’s me, Gary. Are you going to come out now?” I’d walk all the way back, pick up the phone. “Why aren’t you going to come out?”

“Well, I don’t want to come out. What am I going to do?”

Again I talked about life, about all the things he had to live for.

We decided to move on him. We opened door slowly. He was in the living room. He ran out to the ledge. The net was dropped, pulled tight. With superhuman strength he squeezed out around it and dove thirty two floors to his death.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. They had to drive me home that night. You start to shake because you’ve been tense for seven hours and you wonder what you could have said.

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