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Undercover Cops Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice


February 26, 2010

New York City Police Detectives Rodney J. Andrews and James V. Nemorin worked in the elite 23-member Firearms Investigation Unit of the Narcotics Division. According to one of their colleagues, “Our job is to get guns off the streets before they are used to commit a crime or kill someone.”

Det. Rodney Andrews

They work undercover and often deal with cold-blooded street thugs who would think nothing of killing a cop. A veteran of the all-volunteer unit put it this way, “In this job you’re pretty much bait, and I know that a big fish could come along and eat me any time.”

The worst of those fears came true on the night of March 10, 2003. Detectives Andrews, 33, and Nemorin, 40, had arranged to buy a Tec-9 submachine pistol for $1,200 from the associates of a man they had bought a gun from the week before. The Tec-9 has been described as a popular gun for “mass murders” and the Firearms Investigation Unit would do whatever it takes to get one of them off of the street. But the sting went bad, and the two veteran officers were each shot and killed. After searching their bodies for money, the two murderers dumped the bodies in the street and drove off.

Det. James Nemorin

“They died heroes . . . and shall be forever remembered by the people of New York and the NYPD for their actions,” declared their commanding officer, Captain Vincent DiDonato. “They were world class cops, loving fathers and pillars of society.” A search of the records kept by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund shows that Detectives Andrews and Nemorin are two of more than 100 federal, state and local officers have made the ultimate sacrifice while working undercover. The first was Private J. W. Woods of the Texas Rangers.

In the summer of 1893, a local sheriff in Menard County (TX) was faced with a rash of cattle thefts and he called on the Texas Rangers for assistance. In earlier days, an entire company of Rangers might have been assigned to take on the cattle rustlers. But, by the 1890s, the Texas Rangers were overwhelmed with requests for help. So, when the Menard County Sheriff asked for assistance, Private Woods was given the assignment alone by his company commander, Captain John Rogers. Private Woods soon went to work undercover at a local ranch, waiting for the cattle thieves to strike. But before he could make any arrests, Private Woods simply vanished, his cover apparently blown. His body was never found and, after his pay checks went unclaimed for four months, Private Woods was officially declared dead on November 30, 1893. The Texas Rangers considered the case a murder, but no one was ever prosecuted for the crime.

Willie Neal Jr., a St. Louis County (MO) officer, was described by his father as “a young man who knew what he wanted to do, and there was no stopping him. He thought he could make a difference.” On January 29, 1997, Officer Neal, 29, was killed during an undercover drug buy.

Officer Mario Jenkins of the University of Central Florida Police Department, was shot and killed on September 24, 2005, while working undercover to prohibit underage drinking at a college football game. When he approached a group of students who were drinking and identified himself as a police officer, a scuffle broke out and Officer Jenkins’ weapon accidentally discharged. Police officers from another jurisdiction responded and mistook Officer Jenkins for an armed suspect. In the confusion that followed, Officer Jenkins was tragically shot and killed by the other officers.

On May 6, 2005, St. Paul Police Sergeant Gerald Vick, 42, was shot and killed while working an undercover prostitution sting. As Sergeant Vick approached two male suspects who were standing in an alley, the suspects fled. Sergeant Vick, a 17-year police veteran, was murdered as he gave chase.

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