Friday, February 5, 2021

Legendary NYPD Detective Randy Jurgensen: Is It The 1970s All Over Again?

I’ve interviewed legendary former NYPD homicide detective Randy Jurgensen several times over the years. Along with Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, Randy Jurgensen went from investigating the “French Connection” major drug investigation to appearing in The French Connection, the great 1971 film about the famous case. (One of my favorite crime films, which was based on Robin Moore's true crime book).  

He was also, along with Sonny Grosso, his partner after Eddie Egan retired from the NYPD, a technical advisor to the film’s director, William Fredkin. That led to a second career not only as an actor on screen – he was one of the men who machine gunned James Caan’s character Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, and he portrayed a detective in another Fredkin film, Cruising, with Al Pacino – but also as a film producer. 

Randy Jurgensen also wrote an interesting true crime book called Circle of Six, which covered the controversial murder of an NYPD officer at a New York Mosque (The top photo shows Detective Jurgensen being struck with a brick outside of the Mosque).   

On January 30th, Randy Jurgensen penned an interesting op-ed for the New York Daily News. 

As the Big Apple keeps limping like a gunshot victim in this new year — NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea, citing shootings still on the rise, this week asked, “What the hell is going on with the firearms in New York City?” — many of her long-time residents have a new appreciation for the ironic phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20.” 

Looking back, maybe we can have a clearer understanding of how things could have been better and more importantly, why they weren’t. 

Even in the absence of 20/20 vision, it is easy to see in the year gone by, and perhaps in the year that’s upon us, a striking resemblance to another era, a time where the city was edgy and dangerous, when blackouts and militias spurred rioting and looting, when gun violence and crime ticked up faster than the Dow Jones ticked down, when the police were treated like Public Enemy No. 1. 

While the actors have changed, the studio remains the same, and to me it feels an awful lot like a sequel of the Bad Old Days of the 1970s. Yes, I know the statistics are different; I’m talking about the feel on the ground, the feel of something slipping away. I lived through those years as a homicide detective, and to me, what we are going through is eerily similar. 

The number of murders in the city rose to 462 last year, up nearly 45% from 319 in 2019. The increase accompanied a rise in gun violence more intense than any seen in the previous 20 years, what Shea called “a 14-year-high” in shootings. The city recorded 1,531 shootings in 2020, 97% more than the 777 in 2019. 

The similarities don’t stop there. In the 1970s, we saw President Nixon drummed out of office; after the recent spectacle at the U.S. Capitol Building, President Trump has been impeached a second time. 

In the 70s, Gotham was hours from bankruptcy. Today, the city is struggling to balance its budget, waiting and waiting for federal help. Joe Biden won’t be Gerald Ford telling the city to drop dead, but it’s unlikely that any assistance the feds send can help us dig out of the deep hole we’re in.   

... The 70s inflicted such a wound on this city, it took more than 20 years to recover. It was said you were safer in Vietnam than in certain parts of the city at midnight. Public transportation was unsafe. Crime, homelessness and graffiti were through the roof and the city was four hours away from going broke. 

And how did the people that run the city respond? By laying off 5,000 cops and sitting idly by as its residents began to flee. Fun City became Fear City. 

Again, the numbers are different, but we’re at a new crossroads, with thousands wondering whether the wealthy and the middle class will leave, taking with them billions of dollars in tax revenue. 

Who is to blame? 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Is it the 1970s all over again? A retired cop says the crime stats may be different, but the vibe feels familiar - New York Daily News (

You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on the late Sonny Grosso and Randy Jurgensen via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: The Real French Connection Cops: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Legendary Detectives Sonny Grosso And Randy Jurgensen

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