NYPD negotiator retires after three decades of respect

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LOWER MANHATTAN — They had bagpipes and an honor guard AS Hundreds turned out to honor the retiring head of the NYPD’s hostage negotiating team.

Lieutenant Jack Cambria has been called a walking history of hostage negotiation by New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton.

The 60-year-old Cambria is retiring after 33 years with the NYPD.

His nickname is “Gentleman Jack” because of the way he treats everyone, criminals and good guys alike.

And then there’s that famous two-handed handshake.

“We’ve probably gotten it wrong more than anybody else,” a very humble Cambria said. “But by getting it wrong more than anybody else we now get it right. We keep the positives and move forward.”

Lieutenant Cambria was the inspiration for the hostage negotiator played by John Turturro in the taking of Pelham 123.

And for nine years, PIX 11 contributor Wally Zeins, a retired NYPD detective sergeant, worked alongside Lieutenant Cambria. Both were featured in a 48 hours segment about a seven hour hostage standoff in Queens in 2003.

“They call him gentleman Jack for a reason,” Zeins said. “He knows how to listen. He treats everyone with respect.”

One of Lieutenant Jack Cambria’s last hostage negotiations took place just two weeks ago in Staten Island when suspect Garland Tyree set fire to his home, shot a firefighter and then died in a gun battle with police.

“He brought his mother in by helicopter,” Cambria said. “He had a choice.”

But today was a happier day, a chance for the NYPD and everyone else in the city to say a big thank you to gentleman Jack Cambria.

“I am so proud to be Jack Cambria’s daughter,” Melissa Cambria told PIX11, choking back tears.

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