Someone had mentioned Officer Tommy Doyle in the comments section so I thought he’d make for an intriguing blog entry.
I was a little kid when Doyle patrolled the neighborhood where he was known as one of the most-feared, disliked and most talked about cop’s from the 7-2.
One of my most clearer memories of the ‘discipline-master’ came one early Sunday morning where there was a domestic disturbance in my apartment. After much screaming, yelling, and some slapping between a male and female combatants I ran for cover out into the hallway crying hysterically. I must’ve been sitting there for a couple of minutes when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. As I stood up and leaned over the top Bannister to see who it was I could hear a walkie talkie; a live voice was talking into it to someone on the other end. “10-4”, was the last thing I heard. As the voice made their way up past the first flight of stairs, I could now see him in clear view. He was walking up very slowly, taking his time. As he walked up a couple of steps, my mother walked out into the hallway. I glanced at her, then at him. Our eyes met through the staircase bars. I couldn’t stop crying. The sight of a police officer didn’t comfort me, it scared me even more. I was face-to-face with the toughest cop in the neighborhood.
“Did you slap ’em?” Doyle asked my mother as he took his eyes off of me and now focused on her.
“No.” she answered, an unlit Salem cigarette dangling from her lips.
“Give ’em a slap and he’ll quiet down.” Doyle countered as his attention was back on me.
Quickly enough I stopped crying, without the slap. He gave me a smile.
Doyle proceeded up the stairs, almost looking like this whole mess was a waste of his valuable time. He walked into our apartment while I sat in the hallway, all alone. I heard some talking in the apartment between him and my mother but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Minutes later he came walking out and as he made his way down the stairs he said, “take care kid.”
The Mediator had done his job.
Around the neighborhood I always heard people talk about Doyle; it was mostly the older guys though. At times I would see him early in the evening come by the schoolyard during the Holy Name summer league; he’d drive down Howard Place in his police cruiser and stop in the middle of the street to survey the scene. Once there was a brawl on the corner of 9th avenue and Prospect avenue between some neighborhood tough guys and sure enough as soon as Doyle appeared, everything calmed down.
I can recall Doyle pulling up to the parkside one night between 10th avenue and the Circle while a bunch of people hung out; I must of been 14. Most were holding brown paper bags filled with cans of beer. Doyle got out, asked who owned the beer and after no one answered, proceeded to pick them up and dump them all out. When the black and white cruiser pulled up, double parked on Prospect Park Southwest and before he could get out, you had guys placing their bags down on the ground behind the wooden benches, behind the back tire of a parked car, but sure enough, the Mediator sniffed them out.
Other memories of Officer Doyle were of him breaking up a poker game on Howard Place. He didn’t mess with the money in the middle of the circled group, he just told everyone to break it up and take a walk.
There was an interesting story I once heard a long time ago that he grabbed someone on the street because the guy was mouthing off on the avenue. Doyle the deviant one, threw him in the backseat of the cop car and drove down to 4th avenue and 21 street. As they arrived, Doyle uncuffed the guy, kicked him in the ass and told him to walk home. Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News and former resident of the neighborhood once wrote in a column that Doyle would drive the late Joey Corrar all the way out to the piers in Canarsie and leave him there without any carfare or shoes. Imagine that happening today? There’d be lawsuits galore!
I’m sure Doyle was a good dude. He was probably just looking out for the best interest of the local teenagers. He was an old-fashioned, hard-assed, New York City police officer.
I would love to hear stories from the neighborhood folks on their encounters with Officer Doyle.