Ceremonial Send-Off for Veteran Downtown Transit Cop, James Rudolph

Joined by his wife Lori, Det. James Rudolph gets one of many farewell embraces from fellow Transit cops and friends during his retirement walkout, an NYPD tradition. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Nov. 03, 2020

To the sound of bagpipes and the cheers of friends and fellow Transit cops, Det. James Rudolph climbed the stairs of the Canal Street subway station last week, and strolled into retirement.

It was a traditional NYPD “walkoff” on Friday, Oct. 30, for this 33-year veteran of the NYPD’s Transit Bureau, who spent all but the first two of those years with Lower Manhattan’s Transit District 2, headquartered in the Canal Street A, E, C station.

Following a retirement party inside the subterranean station house, Rudolph, 61, and his wife Lori, were met by a long line of well-wishers who came to say goodbye. Upstairs, the couple would be chauffered in a vintage Transit Police patrol car for a ceremonial farewell departure.

And so went the last couple of hours in a career that began in 1987 for Rudolph, Transit District 2’s community affairs officer for the past 13 years, and recipient of two of the NYPD’s highest honors. Rudolph told the Trib that after assignments in Brooklyn and other parts of Manhattan, “I came to Lower Manhattan and I said, I’ve found a home. I loved Lower Manhattan.”

“No matter what tour you worked there was always something happening. There was never any really down time. It was fun. You didn’t want to miss work. It was just a good atmosphere.”

“And there were always places to eat,” he added.

A proclamation from Councilwoman Margaret Chin, presented to him at the retirement party, described Rudolph as a “trusted community partner.

“He served the public selflessly, kept us safe while distinguishing himself with amicability, accessibility and bravery,” the proclamation reads.

For 12 years, Rudolph walked a post around the Broadway Nassau line. On July 25, 1992, he and his partner were alerted to an armed robbery of tourists in the area. “We chased the perpetrator, who jumped into a parked car [with two other occupants] and ended up driving backwards on William Street. But they couldn’t go anywhere except down John Street toward the South Street Seaport,” he recalled. Traffic blocked the car on the narrow street. “So as he swung the car around we went up to it and he pointed a gun out the window. My partner and I shot him.” The gunman died and the men with him were arrested. Five hundred rounds of ammunition were found in the car. 

For his actions, Rudolph was awarded the Combat Cross, NYPD’s second highest honor,  given for “extraordinary heroism while engaged in personal combat with an armed adversary under circumstances of imminent personal hazard to life.” 

Rudolph responded to both attacks on the World Trade Center, and for helping to save the life of a firefighter following the 1993 bombing he received the Medal of Valor. The fireman, lying beneath debris, had fallen through the collapsed mezzanine into the garage. Up to his knees in water, he aided Emergency Service police in extracting the firefighter from the rubble.

Looking back, Rudolph said he loved his job for all the people Downtown he got to know, for the camaraderie of his fellow officers, and for the satisfaction of “protecting people who can’t protect themselves.”  

“I had a great career,” he said. “If I could do it all over again, I would.”