Cow Escapes Slaughterhouse Queens

Published: January 23, 2012

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Cow Escapes Slaughterhouse Queens, CHARLIE MURELLO still carries his gun and badge, still wears a detective’s sharp suit and tassel loafers, still keeps his dress blue uniform hanging in his closet at home.
He still shows up full time for his daily tour of duty at the 90th Precinct station house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the neighborhood where he has spent his entire police career.

But here’s the twist: he is 92 and nearly 30 years retired.

It was 1951 when he joined the New York Police Department, whose 20-years-and-out opportunity may appeal to some, but not to Mr. Murello, who may be the closest thing to a nonagenarian New York police detective.

“After I retired, I just kept coming back; I didn’t want to stop,” he said on Wednesday morning in the station house, a square-blockish building of blond brick on Union Street. “I come every day and see what the troops need,” he said. “It keeps me active and feeling good.”

Mr. Murello is the precinct patriarch, dispensing advice, union amenities and information. He counsels new officers, helps with clerical work and notarizes personal documents. Each morning, he reports to his desk in the community affairs office, an elevator-size room just inside the station’s entrance, where he can stand sentry and greet the officers, all by name.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has made Mr. Murello a lifetime member, a rare honor. At its monthly delegate meetings, he distributes the stipend checks to board members, including the president, Patrick J. Lynch.

“He never stopped being a member and a cop to everyone,” Mr. Lynch said. “When he walks in the station house, everyone lights up. They respect him.”

Mr. Murello was born one of seven children in an apartment on North 10th Street in Williamsburg. He entered the United States Army at age 21. “I fixed roads so Patton’s tanks could pass,” he said.

After the war, he said, “I wanted a good city job, so I took the fire, police and sanitation tests, and police called first.” He was assigned to walk a beat along the East River for the 92nd Precinct, at $3,900 a year.

“I ran for union delegate because I always wanted to represent the guys,” he said. “But I never wanted to be on the P.B.A. board full time, because I liked being a cop in the precinct.”

In 1965, Mr. Murello became a community affairs officer and a detective. The combination made him something of a front man for the precinct house, always on the scene when politicians and big brass came around, and when anything befell one of his officers. He wound up working at the 90th after the 92nd and 87th Precincts were folded into it.

When Mr. Murello turned 63, the department’s mandatory age for retirement, he said the pension office told him, “You have to leave or we’ll kick you out.” He complied reluctantly, and then simply kept showing up for work as a union delegate.

Around the station house, Mr. Murello is more than an aging mascot with some war stories — although he has them, too. Ask him about that photograph on the station house wall of him helping to take a cow into custody.

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