NYC Transit Police

Blood and Brotherhood

When the bloodied and ashen cop walked onto the train, the passengers screamed.

218decab3b42f8376af4bcbac9b5ffe0.jpeg

P.O. McIntyre, 1987

She had eight months on the job, a cop working her subterranean beat…under the city of New York. Very soon, in the darkness of a subway tunnel…she would come face to face with madness.

NYC Transit Cops worked basically alone, it was our “routine” patrol. So on Dec. 14, 1987 26-year-old Police Officer Christine McIntyre was alone aboard a Manhattan train that suddenly stopped in a subway tunnel.

The Motorman had spotted a man on the catwalk, a narrow walkway that runs along the walls of the tube. P.O. McIntyre was notified. To get the man out of harms way, she put herself in harms way and for her efforts…soon felt a blade at her throat.

Subway plat DSC_9492.jpg

A NYC subway tunnel was a dark, electric, combat arena

Patrolling New York’s subways, by a dedicated subway patrol force, dates back to the thirties when uniformed officers were “Specials”. Later, with “Unification” the various Divisions, BMT, IRT and IND came under one Transportation Department and the force that would later become The NYC Transit Police was born.

dad-19432.jpg

My dad, Ptl. Roy Winters at Bway ENY Sta A line. He patrolled 34 years…with no radio

My dad patrolled the subways from 1931 to 1965. I joined the Transit Police in 1966 and retired in 1992. The job merged with NYPD in 1995 and those who since patrol the subways do so as the NYPD’s Transit Bureau. The NYC Transit Police no longer exist…it says here.

Most of the years that I was a Transit Cop the force was about 3,000 to 4,000 or so strong, about one tenth the size of NYPD. We were a smaller force but we were tight. Today, cops who were “Transit” consider themselves Brother and Sister Transit Cops forever.

NY Daily News1960s-4.jpg

NYC Transit Police turning out for patrol. NY Daily News 1960s

We were a unique force with very specific challenges. Our beat was the miles of platforms, stairways and rails that take riders to and from work every day. We breathed hot, humid air laced with the scent of steel dust and urine or sucked in the icy air on wind-swept els.

The train stopped in the tunnel and Officer Christine McIntyre attempted to call for back up on her radio but couldn’t connect. She was in a “dead spot”, a pattern of radio transmission problems that has persisted since subway radio communication was first instituted for Transit Cops in the sixties. But the job needed to be dealt with, so with heart much bigger than could possibly fit into her 5’3 120 lb frame, she stepped off into the darkness…alone.

Tunnel from train IMG_1597 .jpg

It was often the low-level offenders, fare beats, smokers and sleepers who would injure and sometimes even kill cops. One such death occurred at the very 59th St. Columbus Circle station Officer McIntyre was approaching:http://www.odmp.org/officer/7371-police-officer-joseph-keegan

Transit patch 7x5  IMG_6187.jpgSo there really was no such thing as a “routine” collar. We did regularly arrest fare beats and pan handlers, perverts and pickpockets. But we also chased muggers down electrified tunnels and exchanged gunfire in tile-walled, ricochet insanity. We went under trains to rescue the fallen, the suicidal…or the shoved. Because of our unique, alone-and-up-close policing, we felt a strong kinship with each other. We were much fewer than NYPD but just as the “few” Marines have a Semper Fi Brotherhood, we also felt a bond as the Brothers and Sisters of the New York City Transit Police.

The conductor opened one door of the train so Officer McIntyre could access the catwalk. She first tried to offer assistance and she asked him to come into the train, but he refused. He was trespassing so she decided to place him under arrest. In the tight confines between the train and the tunnel’s wall she placed him against the train’s window to handcuff him. A misdemeanor collar at that point, no need to have a firearm out. But he whirled and with a handful of her hair, pulled her head back…slicing a blade through her neck muscles…even catching her carotid artery.

There are many Americans who feel strongly about service, whether in the military on foreign soil, or here at home in the big cities and small towns across America. But some, even within these groups, feel a need to serve those groups as well.

Louie final IMG_6193.jpg

Retired Transit Police Officer, Louis Hollander

About two decades ago, retired Transit Cop, Lou Hollander started the annual Transit Police reunion, a long-weekend event in Florida. Some of us come from long distances, some live nearby, some come for a five day weekend, some shorter stays. Some come for the golf outing or gambling cruise or the Patty Townsend Memorial banquet. All come for the camaraderie.

Ron, Me, Deo, John, Mike IMG_6091.jpg

Retirees: From left, Ron Conklin, Lee Winters, Deo Fasolino, John Sochachi, Lou Shanley

Libation is liberal and memories grow more vivid with the passing years…it seems. At this June of 2016 reunion held at Cocoa Beach’s International Palms hotel, 225 Brothers and Sisters gathered. And this was the smallest gathering yet. Some years there have been great “Transit” migrations of 400 from across the country. I’ve spoken with retirees of other departments, NYC Fire Dept., NYPD, etc. and none have reunions of this size and length.

Mike L IMG_6034.jpg

Retirees, Mike Lavelle, with great shirt, and Dennis Rudolph

Cops find themselves in combat in a wide array of Theaters of Operations, from roadsides in rural counties to the rooftops of the Bronx. But Officer McIntyre’s dark combat zone was as slim as her chances for survival…a 19” wide catwalk. It was there that her adrenalin-fueled fight for life began.

Whether patrolling America’s highways, streets, high rises, or subways…cops find themselves targets in blue. In the line-of-duty cops get injured, cops get maimed…cops die. Law Officers are punched, kicked, bitten, stabbed, crashed into, run over, shot…and shoved to subway tracks. Often, otherwise ubiquitous and primed cell phones seem to fail in recording these attacks against cops.

In the fierce battle of the catwalk, Officer McIntyre raised her left arm to ward off the slashing knife while with her right hand she tried to access her 38 Ruger. But in the onslaught she couldn’t release the safety lock of her holster.

Release of a firearm from its holster’s safety lock works well in the calm and fluorescence of Firearms Training. But not always so well when darkness, assault, adrenaline, blood and close quarters…are all in concert. She did smash her attacker with her nightstick several times but this seemed to only enrage him. “He went crazy”, Christine said. ( A friend of mine on the job, related to me how he had to shoot a man who was beating him with a length of iron. After being shot the man “only became more enraged”, he told me. Such is real-life confrontation with madness.)

Christine’s nightstick soon went flying. He was once again trying to slice her neck. To keep from falling she grabbed onto a rusted, yellow pole that was on the tunnel wall. But the pole broke loose so she used it as a weapon. She was trying to keep him at a distance and possibly have the chance to get the gun out, she told me. But the pole broke in half and he used the broken length of it on her. Christine remained standing throughout it all, though her neck was sliced open, her left bicep ripped wide…but she finally got her gun out.

We are a dwindling legion, we Transit Cops. Natural deaths take some of us each year. They and the line-of-duty fallen are remembered on our online Transit Police and FOP sites. At each reunion the line-of duty deaths are observed in special honor.

In memory IMG_6143.jpg

Line-of-duty deaths are honored on each banquet table

Officer McIntyre was looking at her attacker’s back. He was retreating. He walked along the catwalk toward the rear of the train. She followed him, bleeding badly, gun drawn. Now at that point, had it been me with a slit throat and gaping arm, I might have very well sat down and just waited for help. But not Officer McIntyre. Though blood flowed copiously, she followed her attacker until she saw him jump onto the track. But then numbness in her hands and feet sent a message to her cerebral cortex of impending death, so she walked back to the open door of the train.

Some members don’t do much traveling these days, so a long journey to Florida from the Northeast or the West is a challenge.  But, even under these circumstances…225 members managed to “Transit” their way to the annual reunion.

IMG_6022.jpg

Retiree, Rory McGinn and a small part of the celebrants

Many attendees are from Police Academy classes of the sixties and seventies but it is hoped that more of the later classes of the eighties, and nineties, will provide a surge that will carry the celebration of our unique bond forward.

IMG_6055.jpg

Retirees, Barry Landsberg and Lou Shanley’s…back

When the bloodied and ashen cop walked onto the train the passengers screamed. But three clear-headed airline employees were aboard. Two were a couple on a belated honeymoon, Dale and Teri Demetropolus of Pacific Northwest airlines, the third was Myrna Bonet. They shouted people off a bench seat and laid the cop upon it. One of them took off her scarf and used it to apply pressure to the fallen cop’s neck.

Dale and Terry .jpg

Dale and Teri Demetropolus. Photo Tom Manhaster, NY Daily News

The train, still in the tunnel, wasn’t moving toward the next station, 59th St. But at the urging of all to the conductor, “Get this train moving!” it finally moved forward.

At the 59th St. station, Marine vet Transit Cop, Joe McGary rushed to the young cop sprawled and near death. He hoisted her in his arms and sprinted up three flights of stairs to the street and medical attention.

Christine .jpg

Police Office Christine McIntyre with two unidentified civilians and P.O. Joe McGary. Photo credit unknown.

The attacker was eventually apprehended. He gave his name as “Jack Webb” and “Peter Son” and said he lived in the Empire State building. He had been arrested in CT for robbery but that state found him unfit to stand trial. He absconded from mental health commitment there and headed for NYC.

Officer McIntyre was taken to Bellevue Hospital where her mom later happened to be riding in an elevator with various officials. They did not know who she was when she heard them say, “It doesn’t look like she’s going to make it.” But she did make it. She survived madness in a subway tunnel and eventually, and very reluctantly, retired.

“Jack Webb” was found by New York’s criminal justice system to be unfit for trial and committed to a mental institution…once again.

Hugs in lobby IMG_5945.jpg

What it’s all about

Officer McIntyre was present at this Transit Police reunion. Since her time in the tunnel she went through divorce with two children. But she persevered once again and raised those kids to become beautiful adults. She “Transits” on in life as an optimistic divorcee.

Bill, John C, Louie, wife, IMG_6148.jpg

From left, Bill McKechnie, John Caruso, Lou Hollander and his wife, Barbara

Christine McIntyre will now be on the new reunion committee freshly captained by past Transit Police PBA president Bill McKechnie. Her task is to vet new venues for future reunions. She also avidly participates in support groups for other cops who…faced down madness.

 FINAL Christina IMG_6220 copy.jpg

Retired NYC Transit Police Officer Christine McIntyre.

The New York City Transit Police.

We were the few…who served for you.

Be well,
Lee Winters,
shedding a little light wherethesundontshine
See also my sunny side: https://leebythesea.me

31 replies »

  1. PO Mary O’Donnell Transit 91-01 assigned to District 11 and 12 promoted 6/00 to Sergeant retired 11/30/11 from the 20th precinct.

    Like

    • Great article and pictures. It was a great job My time in the Transit Police (Oct. ’73-April ’95 through to retirement Nov. ’97) seemed to fly by so quickly as I look back. But my memories are vivid and it seemed like yesterday. I had the pleasure of working with a lot of great people. I hope they’re all well.

      Like

  2. A Very nice piece,Lee.It certainly hit home with me.Its amazing how some memories last a life-time. I enjoyed reading this…Tony Z.

    Like

  3. Great artical.History remembered of the struggle the men & women went through to make the subways safe and was the catalyst which drove the city’s crime rates down and gentrified a lot of the borough’s. May5, 1965-Nov30, 2010.

    Like

  4. Great article, very well written. A rare accurate history of a great police department. I didn’t know your dad, I started in July 64.

    Like

  5. Tony Ovchinnikoff- 86-33 Dist. 3 and 1. Great article. Tightest bunch of cops ever. 10-13 party for a cop in Dist. 33′ guys for 12 would be there.

    Like

  6. Great story. The Transit Poluce Department was the only City department to deploy its officers on solo patrol in the most dangerous areas of the city . As such, Transit Cops developed certain survivsl skills.

    After i retired from Transit, I took a job as a Beach Police officer in Florida. My first year during a very roudy college reunion, I was assigned to ATV patrol in the worst area of the reunion. The officer doing the assignments said he was teaming me up with another officer for my safety. I didn’t say anything. The sergeant who hired me, was a retired NYPD detective. As soon as he learned I was teamed up, he told the officer doing the assignments to: “Put Sorrentino out by himself. He was a New York City Transit Cop who patrolled the subways by himself. I think he can handle a college reunion.” That made me feel real proud of Transit hearing that come from a street cop. PO Bill Sorrentino (70-90)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will never forget when I was a rookie cop assigned to TPF-34, and you had a 10-85 with 15 punks on the wall giving them all summons for open containers and other offenses. That was best ever! LOL, it was on the F line. @ approximately 0300 hrs. maybe 1985,

      Like

  7. I want to introduce myself. My name is Chris Messina. I am the brother of Christine Hurley. I truly love and admire my sister for what she has been through and what she stands for even today. My niece and nephew have a wonderful mom and I hope they truly understand the bravery, courage and sacrifice their mom has displayed over the years. Our story, that is of Christine and myself, is interesting in how it’s unfolded over the years, but that story is for another day.
    Let me close by saying my younger sister is the most dedicated and devoted friend to the Transit Police Department I have ever known. I love and respect her dearly and deeply!
    Christopher G. Messina- Cleveland, Ohio

    Like

    • Chris, You and your family have every reason to be proud of Christine. I know, by her ordeal, she saved an unknown civilian from certain death had they come across this madman on later day. She may have been 5’3” but she was walking’-tall-in-guts when she stepped into that dark tunnel to face a dark mind. Thank you for your comment and for your sister’s service to New Yorkers. God bless your sister and your family.
      Be well,
      Lee Winters

      Like

  8. A real nice tribute to a brave officer. I was a Transit Police Officer from 1965 to 1992, it was an honor and privilege to have worked with such a dedicated group.

    Like

  9. I was in the May 1965 class at the academy, I worked in D1 and D2 (shield # 2616) left in Nov. 1967 went to NYSP for 27 years, I always benefited from the survival experience I gained in the NYTPD , it served me well during my police career. Patrolling alone without any means of communication, (we made hourly rings on the phone if they didn’t hear from U they went looking) it was a dangerous job. Christine payed her dues, I’m happy she’s with us still.

    Like

  10. A great article about some great cops. I was proud to have been a NYC Transit cop because of the caliber of the people I had the privilege to work with. Just another story in the naked subway

    Like

  11. Christine is the epitome of what a Transit Police officer is…I see her at the 10-13 club meetings in Florida..
    I started my career in the Transit Police also in 1989, I worked in D1, D2, D34..I am honored to be part of the transit family and I am honored to call Christine my friend.

    Like

  12. Great job with great people. Did my 5 years till the hostel take over then went to the street made Sgt and retired in oct of 2010. Loved my time in the subway the few the proud the transit police.

    Like

  13. Ed Barry 1965-1988 Thanks Lee for a wonderful telling of a story of great courage and determination. I was a lieutenant at the time and responded to the scene. The perpetrator was a raving lunatic and was subdued and restrained without any further injury to the subject or the officers on the scene. A great job by all involved.

    Like

  14. Sgt Carl Root, NYCTPD 1993-1995 (TD01), NYPD 1995-Present. Great story and great memories. I wouldn’t trade my time “in the hole” for anything. Those 2yrs made me a better cop.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s