Up Close – NYPD Street Warrior

NYPD Street Warrior
By PO Valerie Stetz

The life of NYPD 2nd grade Detective Ralph Friedman

Detective Ralph Friedman was born in 1949 and grew up in a largely unobservant Jewish family in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. He recalls staying home on Jewish holidays and studying for his Bar Mitzvah, which was the furthest he went in his faith. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and started a job with a moving company, making $4.50 an hour while others were only making $1.15 per hour. It was hard work, but he needed to support himself.

Prior to joining the NYPD, he always stayed in good shape and had several fights growing up in the Bronx. He was considered a tough guy who always relied on his street smarts. One day out of the blue, a few of his friends were going to take the civil service test for NYPD and asked Friedman to accompany them. He was hesitant to go but decided to join them. He took the test and figured he would give it a shot, hoping to get called so he could have a good future. He believed it would be a great career without having to go to college, as he didn’t want to lift furniture for the rest of his life. He received a letter of acceptance into the NYPD and it all happened rather quickly. He joined the NYPD in 1968 as a trainee handling 9-1-1 calls, until finally hitting the streets in 1970.

He was assigned to Fort Apache the Bronx, 41st Precinct. At the start of his career and during the early 1970s, “Fort Apache” was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world. They were dealing with murders, robberies, drugs, arsons, burglaries, car thefts, and every other crime imaginable. During this period, the NYPD was predominantly Irish American Catholics, with Friedman being one of a few officers from a Jewish family.

He loved being a police officer in the Bronx and was proud of his heritage, which quickly prompted him to join the NYPD Shomrim Society (association for Jewish cops), and to this day remains a member. When joining the Shomrim Society, it was a small group at that time, but it has since grown to approximately 3,000 members, which accounts for just as many Jewish officers in the NYPD out of their 34,000 officers.

Det. Friedman’s first shooting occurred in June of 1971 when his then girlfriend called him because two guys were arguing with her and her mother. When Friedman arrived, the men came at him with a tire iron. At first, he didn’t want to shoot them and began fighting, taking both of them on at the same time. However, with his hand broken from trying to block the tire iron from smashing his head, he shot the first perp as the second perp came from behind him and fractured his skull. Luckily, the second perp was then shot by a back up officer, just as he was about to hit Det. Friedman again.

Det. Friedman is like no other cop, he is tops. He made over 2,000 arrests in 14 years, he earned 219 departmental awards, plus another 36 civilian honors. He has been in 15 gun battles and shot 8 perps, killing 4 out of the 8. He was stabbed, had a fractured skull, broke his hand twice, had many other bones broken, and survived after being struck in the head with a tire iron. His motto is, “The rush is worth the risk,” which is tattooed on his back.

In 1983, while in an unmarked car with his partner, a call came over the radio for a “10-13,” which means an officer needs assistance. He started rushing to the call and was struck by a marked car responding to the same call as back-up. His car was T-boned and the impact shattered his hip and broke 22 bones. This took him two years to recover and rendered him unable to work, which resulted in him receiving a disability pension and prematurely ending an amazing and brilliant career.

Det. Friedman is not happy with the administration of today. He is not pleased with the “Stop and Frisk” changes. He states, “When I was on the job, they wanted you to be very proactive and go out and arrest bad guys and do your job. Today, they don’t want you out there doing real police work. Today, the administration does not have your back. When you stopped a guy on instincts and found drugs or guns, it was considered a good arrest. Today, you’re violating the ‘perps’ rights. Cops are being micromanaged and this in turn will hurt the public. I would love to be a cop today but my methods of policing would be in violation. When I said you’re under arrest, they could either go the easy way or the hard way, depending on the criminal.”

Det. Friedman’s brother, Det. Sgt. Stu Friedman (Ret.) was also a highly dedicated and decorated member of the NYPD. To hear more amazing stories about Det. Friedman’s career, you can purchase his book, “Street Warrior,” and watch his television series called Street Justice: The Bronx, on November 30th at 10PM on channel ID (Investigation Discovery).

Valerie A. Stetz (Velazquez) retired on accidental disability from the Jersey City Police Dept. She was injured in a radio car accident responding to a robbery in progress call. Valerie is a member of the NJ Police Honor Legion. She is the radio host for the popular Internet show “Blue World Uncensored” on DDV RADIO.  Valerie is married, with a son and daughter.