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Public Servants

Albert Seedman - NYPD Chief of Detectives

Cigar chomping, tough and flamboyant--Detective Albert Seedman was the first and only Jewish NYPD Chief of Detectives

Born: 1919 - Brooklyn, New York
Died: ---

Albert Seedman
Albert Seedman

Albert Seedman was born in Brooklyn and raised in one of the toughest neighborhoods of the South Bronx. After high school he attended Baruch School of Business with the intention of becoming an accountant. Discovering the pay was better in the civil service, after graduation from college he joined the New York Police Department, in 1942, and was soon walking the beat as a patrolman.

He served in army intelligence in World War II where he took part in both the Normandy Invasion and Battle of the Bulge eventually earning him five battle stars.

After the war he resumed his career in the police department where he was promoted to detective in 1946.

He was often described by colleagues as "tough", "laconic" and "poker-faced," in fact, one of his nicknames was "Smiley," owing to the fact that he rarely smiled. Seedman had a reputation for smoking Havana cigars, wearing custom monogrammed shirts, which said "Al," and displaying flamboyant rings on his fingers.

He demonstrated a knack for solving crimes and the ability to uncover crucial pieces of evidence that others overlooked in the many homicides that he solved. Having visited the scene of over 2,000 murders, Seedman gained a reputation for staying cool even in the most gruesome circumstances such as was when body parts of a jumper (or someone pushed) were falling through the elevated tracks of a Bronx subway, or upon discovering the body of a dead shut in, bloated like a balloon and emanating terrible odors. Seedman was never fazed and often soothed the nerves of his fellow officers.

From 1971-1972 he was Chief of Detectives, running 2,900 men, making it the largest detective bureau in the world.

Throughout his career, Seedman was involved in many high profile cases including the Kitty Genovese murder, the assassination of organized crime boss Joe Colombo and the Harlem mosque shooting incident. Disagreements with top NYPD brass over the handling of the mosque case led to his resignation from the force.

In a September 9, 2004 article, The New York Times described Detective Seedman in the following way:

It's the 1970's, and Chief Seedman is all over the place, tough, flamboyant and foul-mouthed, constantly chomping on a cigar, appearing at the scene of important crimes. He seemed more Irish than the Irish, as if he had co-opted their territory, their language, their domain.
Interesting Facts
  • Seedman wrote a book called Chief, which is considered a true crime classic.
  • A short lived TV series called Eischeid (1979-1983) was partially based on Albert Seedman.
  • In 1969 Seedman was named Person of the Year by the NYPD Shomrin Society, a fraternal organization for Jewish police officers.
Further Reading
Some of these sites were used as source material for this entry and may be of interest to those looking to learn more about this person/topic.


Copy the text below to cite your paper or article:

Meyer, Daniel. "Albert Seedman - NYPD Chief of Detectives." J-Grit: The Internet Index of Tough Jews.