Niagara Gazette

December 21, 2012

COPS NOTEBOOK: Departing commander another big loss for Falls police

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — I've already written some, and I'll be writing more about the departure of Falls Police Superintendent John Chella.

But there's another commander who be leaving next Friday, in his words, "walking arm-and-arm out the door" with the superintendent. He's not someone who seeks the spotlight, and I think he'd be perfectly all right if I let him leave without saying a word.

Sorry "Cap," can't do that.

To say my working, professional relationship with Capt. Morris Shamrock has been one that reporters always hope for is an understatement. Almost from the day I arrived at the Gazette, the captain reached out to me to talk about the work "his guys," as he calls the detectives and Roving Anti-Crime Unit officers in the Narcotics Division, do.

He would tell me how important he thought it was for the public to know about the investigations, the raids, the arrests, the seizures that "his guys" were undertaking and making. 

"It's how the citizens can keep score," he would say. 

That was how the public would be able to tell who was winning and who was losing in the never-ending war on crime.

I didn't really know the "Cap" all that well when I got here. But he seemed to know about me. 

Maybe it was my prior work at News 4 Buffalo, maybe he "checked me out" with others in law enforcement that I had covered in the past. Whatever it was, I'm deeply appreciative that he was willing to open up the opportunity for us to cover his officers and detectives' work and let you have an inside view of what they do, how they do it and how that impacts your life.

Another thing about the "Cap", it was never, ever, about him. It was always about the results of "his guys' " work.

He shunned the media spotlight. For all the hundreds of pictures Gazette photographers have taken, documenting the activities of the Narcotics Division, I don't think there's so much as a single shot of Shamrock.

"Give the guys the credit," he always said. "They work hard."

He always wanted the detectives and RAC officers to talk to me about what they did and how they did it in their own words. 

He'd give me a few quotes, department policy requires the supervisor to speak first. But by letting the officers and detectives tell me their stories in their own words, the "Cap" felt "his guys" would get the credit from the public for the fruits of their labor. 

I can tell you this, there is no better way to tell a story than in the words of the people who lived it.

So it's no surprise, the loyalty of "his guys" and the time and hard work they put in for him. Who wouldn't do that for a boss like that?

The narcotics detectives and RAC officers are going to miss not having the "Cap" around.

So am I.

Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252