Thursday, October 29, 2009

Retired CT State Trooper Jerry Longo Reviews NYPD Bomb Squad Book

Bomb Squad:
A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit

Richard Esposito
Ted Gerstein
* Hardcover: 352 pages
* Publisher: Hyperion
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 1401301525
* ISBN-13: 978-1401301521

I appreciate the hard work that went into getting a special squad like this to open up ..


The Cool Justice Report
Oct. 29, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, Rich Esposito will be appearing in Connecticut along with many other authors Jan. 15, 2010 as part of a Connecticut Young Writers event at The Hartford Club. The Bookworm of West Hartford will be the vendor.

I worked up on the second deck of Troop K in Colchester, Connecticut. I was the Resident Trooper Sergeant with four towns in the state to cover.

My office was across from the Emergency Services Unit -- "The Bomb Squad."

In charge of the Bomb Squad at the time was a sergeant I still converse with -- via email mostly -- named Dan. He and his crew were torn from the pages of Rich Esposito and Ted Gerstein's book. They were always training, always ready. Many of them had military backgrounds.

I am a huge fan of the short chapter as employed by Esposito and Gerstein. The point is made and they move on. I have always liked the flashback / flashforward style when describing historical events, which they also use well. This device gives me a deeper perspective.

The sentiments in the squad rooms, the squalor that most good cops tolerate and come to love with regard to their surroundings is covered very well. My old desk in Colchester was broken in half when someone stepped on it to hang a picture and we put it back together with duct tape. There were just enough photos in the center of the NYPD Bomb Squad book. I really like the vintage stuff.

All in all, based on my experience and training, I appreciate the hard work that went into getting a special squad like this to open up -- even if they had been ordered to do so. I am going to recommend the book to the guy who ran our bomb squad.

My observations in Connecticut were both on scene and off. I had one bomb call at a high school which fell under my area of responsibility -- the suspicious package. It was just a cardboard box with some electrical tape. The message scribbled on it said there were multiple bombs and they would go off this Wednesday. Wednesday was misspelled.

-- Connecticut Trooper Approaches Suspicious Package

I snuck up on the package and snapped a couple of pictures. I caught holy hell from the responding techs and rightfully so.

Turns out it was a hoax which was perpetrated by one of the kids I was mentoring in a Public Safety Explorer Post. We both learned a lesson that day. He got expelled and arrested. I got my ass chewed off.

The stupid kid was just trying to get out of a scheduled test. It was one of the toughest arrests I ever made. He graduated to auto theft from there.

The guys hassled me big time about the photos. They threw that "If you can see the [----ing] bomb, then the [----ing] bomb can see you" quotation at me.

I still remember the expression changes on the faces of these men when the call would come in. They snapped into crinkled foreheads and precise movements. The trucks would roll out and I always wanted to see them roll back in again, in the same condition -- the men that is, not so much the trucks.

This was a tough job and one of the men in the squad who had been a Marine and nearly killed in the barracks bombing in Beirut told me that he had his Social Security number tattooed on various parts of his body to make his I.D. easier.

The only thing I don't like in the NYPD Bomb Squad book -- and the guys in the book may have gotten some crap over -- were their descriptions. You know, the sandy haired, blue eyed guy chiseled body stuff. Hey, these are tough guys, you know!

There is nothing easy about what these guys do and I am glad this book was written. I give it an A.

Jerry Longo, a contributor to several police history books, is working on a chronology and photo history of the Connecticut State Police. Longo has been a guest lecturer at state and private universities. He is a board member and lecturer for the International Organization of Asian Organized Crime Investigators and Specialists and was a featured speaker this year for that group in Hawaii. Currently, Longo is assisting in the planning of regional meetings in London and Montreal He is president of the Connecticut State Police Alumni Association as well as chairman of its Museum and Education Foundation. Longo served the Connecticut State Police for more than 20 years and now works as a senior investigator for the Gaming Commission at Mohegan Sun Casino.

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