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Authors: George Norris

Exceptional Merit

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Exceptional Merit

By George P. Norris

Retired Sergeant



George Norris retired as one of the most highly decorated police officers in the history of the New York City Police Department.


Copyrigyht 2013 by George P. Norris

Published by George P. Norris at Kindle Direct Publishing

over Design by Suzala.   [email protected]


First Edition published 2013.  This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted or redistributed by any means without the prior written consent of the publisher and author.  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23




Chapter 1



The first uniformed officers on the scene realized it would be fruitless to attempt to help the victim.  The bullets had ripped through the skull of the man sitting inside of his 1994 Lincoln, killing him instantly.  The officers set up the yellow CRIME SCENE tape around the Lincoln as the bereaving widow looked on.  They made all the necessary notifications—including one to the Operations Unit—that a New York State Supreme Court Judge had just been murdered.


The call had come shortly before 2:00 A.M., waking Lieutenant James Keegan from his sleep.  It had been over four years since Keegan had been transferred from the Commanding Officer of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad to the Executive Officer of the N.Y.P.D., F.B.I. Joint Terrorist Task Force.  It had also been over four years since he’d had the middle of the night wake up calls to inform him of a homicide.  Keegan thought to himself that of all the assignments or details that there are on the job, this was his favorite for many reasons.  For starters, in this detail he was the Executive Officer not the Commanding Officer, whereas in almost any other detective squad in the city, his rank would carry the job of C.O.  As the X.O., he didn't have to worry about any major problems because those would always reflect on the Commanding Officer.  He also didn't have to be concerned with robberies, homicides, or the rate of case clearances as other detective squads did.  The best benefit of this detail, however, was to be working with the Feds.  Between the credit cards, the take-home car, and the occasional trip to another country, he felt that this was certainly the best detail in the job today.

It was shortly after 3:00 A.M. when Keegan exited the Long Island Expressway at Little Neck Parkway.  Looking down at his watch, he thought to himself,
Less than a half hour. Why can't it be this quick when I'm working day tours?
  Keegan made a right hand turn through the red light and followed the directions.  Keegan pulled his dark blue Crown Victoria up to the crime scene, which was in a rather posh area of Queens known as Douglas Manor. 
The Manor
, as it was affectionately called by its residents, was a small community in the northeastern most section of Queens.  It is set on a peninsula that extends into Little Neck Bay.  Keegan admired the houses in this hilly community.  They were mostly Colonial, Tudor and Queen Anne style that must have been built close to one hundred years ago, he guessed.  He remembered reading somewhere that there was a house in this community built in the mid 1700’s.

There were some neighborhoods in the city that violence was not uncommon.  Seeing the police manning crime scenes was a near everyday occurrence.  Not this neighborhood, however.  Keegan figured this upscale neighborhood had to be one of the safest in the city.  In a city where the homicide rate has topped two thousand murders per year, Keegan felt it was a safe bet that this particular area probably hasn’t seen a homicide in decades.  As he exited his car, he observed many neighbors standing outside of their houses in spite of the frigid temperatures.  The
look on their faces was clearly of concern as well as shock.  He observed an older couple, probably in their mid-sixties, standing in the driveway of their home, two doors away.  They held each other tightly, apparently undaunted by the time of night or the sub-freezing temperature.  Keegan wondered if they knew the victim or were just taking in the horrific scene which was clearly unfamiliar to them.


The patrol sergeant on the scene stood off to the side and studied the man exiting the Crown Victoria for a clue to his identity.  Keegan stood six feet tall and weighed about two hundred pounds.  His reddish brown hair had a hint of gray to it, the only clue that gave away his forty-two years; his polished looks and muscular build were more like that of a man in his early thirties.  Keegan put on his suit jacket, covering up the Sig Saur nine millimeter handgun which was holstered at his waist, and walked toward the Sergeant.  As he got closer, the Sergeant was sure he recognized him from somewhere but couldn’t place where it was.


“How are we doing tonight Sergeant, uh, Gentry?” asked Keegan, gazing down at the Sergeant's nameplate.

“I'm doing a lot better than
poor bastard.”  Gentry shook his head, looking down at the homicide victim.  “You have an advantage.  I'm wearing a nameplate, and you’re not.  Would you at least mind telling me if I should salute you?”  A tentative smile came across Gentry’s face; obviously, he was hinting at Keegan to identify himself.

“Lt. James Keegan, Joint Terrorist Task Force,” said Keegan, extending his right hand.  Though Keegan wasn't much of a rank-and-file man, he understood its necessity in a quasi-military organization such as the police department.  He was a cop's cop.  No matter what rank he would ultimately attain, he would never look down on another cop.  He would always treat each one of them as an equal.  “Call me Jimmy.”  Gentry gave a knowing nod, realizing where he’d recognized Keegan from.

Keegan studied the scene in front of him from outside the perimeter of the crime scene tape.  The house was a Colonial style home, white in color that was easily sixty or more years old.  It was set on top of a hill, which was common for the area.  It had a grey roof and a large porch in the front.  In spite of its age, the house was in immaculate condition.  The house had a generous size front yard and a fairly large evergreen tree at the end of the driveway.  Keegan decided this house probably would sell for close to a million dollars, especially since it was directly across the street from the water.

As Keegan got closer, he studied the 1994 black Lincoln which was backed into the two car driveway of the home.  The driveway was on a moderate incline leading to the house.  The driver’s side window was reduced to pieces of shattered glass, both inside and outside of the vehicle.  Blood and pieces of brain matter were visible on the front windshield and the passenger side window, which remained intact.  Keegan fixed his attention back on the evergreen tree
; t
he perfect place for someone to lay in ambush
. The victim’s body was still in a mostly upright position slumped toward the passenger seat.

Keegan looked back at the house.  It was curious.  There were lamp posts on either side of the walkway leading to the house.  Neither of them
was on, nor was the porch light, Keegan noted. 
Something’s not right
.  Keegan didn’t believe in coincidence. 
Even if they had just been off somebody would have turned those lights on by now.
  He was willing to bet the light bulbs were removed or loosened if he were to examine them.  He decided he was getting a bit ahead of himself and would wait for some more details.  The crime scene would tell the story of what happened here.


A light snow had just begun to fall as the Crime Scene Unit detectives took photographs of the dead man and his surroundings to memorialize the scene.  There were half a dozen or so suits from the precinct detective squad and the night watch team running around, pads and pens in hand, talking to various neighbors and other potential witnesses.  Keegan observed the uniformed officers standing off to the side, talking amongst each other and the ambulance crew.  The members of E.M.S. were standing by, awaiting the orders to remove the body from the scene.  Once the Medical Examiner gave the okay and the Crime Scene detectives had concluded their initial investigation, they’d be free to do so.  He stared at one of the E.M.S. technicians.  She was a petite and rather attractive young lady.  She was only about five feet tall and couldn't weigh much more than ninety pounds. 
Now, how in the world is she supposed to be able to lift somebody into an ambulance?

The M.E. peeled off a pair of rubber gloves, discarding them in the street.  His initial on-scene investigation was concluded—now the body could be moved so that the Crime Scene team could gather other evidence.  Death has a way of humbling someone.  In life, this body had been a very important and influential New York State Supreme Court Justice.  In death, he was just like anyone else.  A lifeless body that was nothing more than a memory to those who loved him.  To the N.Y.P.D., he‘d become a statistic.  Both men ducked under the yellow crime scene tape and entered the perimeter, being careful not to disturb any evidence.  “Did the
of your squad come to the scene for this one?”  Keegan hinted, hoping the Sergeant would introduce him to the Lieutenant in charge of the Precinct Detective Squad.

“Yeah, that's him over there. I'll get him for you.”  Gentry called out to a short, husky man in his mid-fifties, wearing a trench coat—the type that had become the earmark of a New York City Detective.  The husky man approached, staring cautiously at Keegan. 
The irony of this job, Keegan thought, is that everyone is suspicious of everyone else until they know who they are.  Everyone was on the same side, yet there was such division at times between different units within the department.  If the unknown person was from a different investigative unit, that was one thing.  But if they were from Quality Assurance Division, Inspections or Internal Affairs, that was another story.  They would be unwanted if they showed up on a crime scene.  Their jobs were to investigate other cops, and were generally looked down upon by the rank-and-file.  It was just the healthy paranoia the job instills in you, he reasoned.

“Lt. Vito, this is Lt. Keegan of the Joint Terrorist Task Force,” Gentry introduced Keegan to the squad commander as if he had known him all of his life.

“Jimmy,” Keegan quickly stated extending his right hand.

“Sal's the name,” the Lieutenant reciprocated as he accepted Keegan's hand.  He already knew who Keegan was.  He studied Keegan briefly before curiosity got the better of him.  “What brings the Joint Terrorist Task Force into a homicide investigation?”

“To be perfectly honest with you, I don't even know the circumstances of the homicide, other than the fact that a judge bought it.  But the Chief of Detectives called me at three a.m. and suggested I get right over here.”  Keegan paused for a moment.  “I guess when the Chief of D’s calls you at anytime to go somewhere it’s more than just a suggestion.” 

The men shared a knowing chuckle.  Keegan inched his way closer to the Lincoln, examining the crime scene up close.  Keegan had noticed that part of the victim's skull had been blown off, which suggested that a high powered gun had been used at close range.  He immediately ruled out robbery as a motive.  A gold watch was clearly visible on the man’s wrist and his briefcase lay untouched on the passenger seat. 
The poor bastard never knew what hit him
.  Keegan shined his flashlight on the ground but didn't see any spent shell casings in the light coating of snow.  He wondered if a revolver had been used or if a careful assassin had bothered to pick up the spent shell casings.

It was a funny thing, how the mind of a trained investigator worked.  Keegan had studied the scene up close for less than a minute but already he was trying to formulate a motive and had ruled certain things out.  Was it a police officer's training, his years of experience, or just his suspicious nature that so quickly yet accurately allowed these men to draw their conclusions?  He had learned that any first impressions at a homicide scene were usually right on the money.  It had been quite some time since he was involved with a simple homicide investigation.  His adrenaline was pumping and he was excited to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

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