Watching an elite group of NYPD detectives

Back in 2000 while still on the Documentary Photography & Photojournalism Program at ICP (International Center of Photography) in New York, I was commissioned by Court TV to document the work of NYPD detectives in two precincts in Brooklyn, the “seven three” and the “nine oh”. This work was to be used as production stills for a 10 episode documentary series which aired on various networks around the world, including Channel 4 in the UK.

Scans are from dupe slides. © Paul Treacy / Court TV

Tensions are high as the detectives arrive to begin their investigations. In the projects, heavily armed units enter the often huge surrounding buildings to secure them floor by floor before the detectives can begin their work.
Prime suspect being interviewed. The officer left the room shortly afterwards and told me to hang around to see if the suspect turned off the lights. If he did it meant he was about to curl up on the bench and go to sleep. When this happens, detectives are convinced of the suspect’s guilt. Were they innocent they’d be very animated, apparently.
This person could avoid the attention of the vice squad by giving information when she could to the homicide squad who always looked after her. There were female detectives in both precincts I was covering just not when I was there. Some were on vacation, others on secondment, unfortunately.
Homicide detectives are a sharply dressed bunch. Perhaps there’s power in that. This particular officer was famed for his interrogation techniques. Softly spoken, very clever and patient.
I was told to always address the lieutenant in charge of the 90th precinct as either “boss” or “lu”, never by his name. Here detectives are briefing the boss on an investigation and awaiting further instructions.

I would love to do more work like this.


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