Three decades after he retired, a decorated detective who made over 2,000 arrests and assisted in 5,000 during his career is being celebrated.
Ralph Friedman, a NYPD detective who grew up in Fordham, is the subject of a new Discovery Channel docu-series called ‘Street Justice: The Bronx.’ The series can now be found on Discovery.
Separately, he is the author of a recently released book called ‘Street Warrior: The True Story of the NYPD’s Most Decorated Detective,’ based on his experiences in the 41st Precinct when it was known as ‘Fort Apache’ and fighting crime elsewhere in the borough and city.
The docu-series recounts everyday fare in Friedman’s life during the 1970s and 1980s, including deadly gun battles, an illegal weapons sting and a manhunt for a Williamsbridge serial rapist.
When he was first assigned to the 41st Precinct, it was “the worst precinct on the planet,” he said.
“I remember the violence when I was put over there,” he said. “I was from the Bronx, but I didn’t see that side of it.”
It was replete with violence, drugs, people nodding out in the street, shots fired and stabbings that were a part of everyday life there when he first hit the streets in 1970, he said.
Nevertheless, he recalled the start of his NYPD career, which ended when he was injured in a car crash as he rushed to help another officer, as a time when he was working with “the best of the best.”
After 16 months in uniform, he moved onto plain-clothes.
“I wound up starting to make arrests and enjoyed it,” he said, adding that he got an adrenaline rush from making arrests.
Friedman was involved in a many a fight in his youth, experiences that came in handy later on in life.
“When you fight someone and you win, it is a good feeling,” said Friedman. “And now you are putting cuffs on them and you are fighting for a good reason: you are taking a guy off the street that preys on the weak.”
By making hundreds and then thousands of arrests, both off duty and on duty and in the New York and outside of it, he was promoted to detective in 1975.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” said Friedman of this time, adding “The feeling was like I did not want it to stop.”
One of his more memorable incidents was a gun battle with an armed man who shot his partner and certainly would have shot him had Friedman not hit him first, he said.
“It was life and death, and I proved my mettle and shot it out with him,” said Friedman.
Friedman said he sees the work of the police as a “thin blue line” protecting the public.
John Roche, a former Bronx Times editor, provided additional commentary for the Discovery series, and said that Friedman’s career was one of the most incredible in NYPD history.
He said that Friedman’s exploits are a ‘lens’ through which we can capture a lot of the history of the borough.
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