Famous commander of NYPD's Hostage Negotiation Team retires

Friday, August 28, 2015
Famous commander of NYPD's hostage negotiation team retires
Dave Evans has the story

NEW YORK (WABC) -- For decades, he has been the man called in to New York's most tense situations.

Lieutenant Jack Cambria, the commander of the NYPD's Hostage Negotiation Team, has been involved in every major negotiation in recent memory, including those popularized on the big screen.

Friday, Lieutenant Jack Cambria walked out of police headquarters after 33 years.

He joined the department in 1982 and learned on the beat that it's important to be nice; instead of frowning say, "good morning".

"People were looking at me, I was looking at them, and then I would stop and say 'good morning'. 'Good morning, officer.' Oh my goodness, this stuff works," Cambria said.

For the last 14 years he ran the department's hostage negotiation team.

The actor John Turturo played Cambria in the movie, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3."

"This is not a good idea, your honor, don't talk, don't engage with him. I know what I'm doing. I've been doing this for a long time," Turturo said as Cambria in the movie.

"When you look at John Turturo he became Jack, from his suit, to yellow tie, to his blue shirt, to his mannerisms, and Jack was on the set," the director said.

Two weeks ago on Staten Island, Cambria was the negotiator at a standoff. He even flew in the barricaded man's mother from Delaware to try to help.

"They exchanged that they loved each other and at the point Mr. Tyree indicated that he was going to surrender," Cambria said.

Across the city, about 100 police are part of the Hostage Negotiating Team. Today here at Police Headquarters, Lt. Cambria said every candidate needs to have two important qualifications; they have to be compassionate and they have to be at least 35.

"Probably at 35 years or so, one would know what is to experience love at one point in their life, to know what it's like to be hurt in love at one point in their life, to know success and perhaps most important to know failure," Cambria said.

Cambria leaves knowing he has led a very successful hostage team.

They get about 40 calls a month. He left today in a '72 Fury, a reminder of how the department's changed and improved on his watch.