What to Know
- Authorities were able to catch the father suspected of throwing his baby into the East River, thanks to NYPD's overseas detectives
- James Currie was captured in Thailand, and it was NYPD detectives based in Singapore and Abu Dhabi who were able to track him
- The NYPD has detectives stationed in more than a dozen countries overseas, parts of the liaison program started after 9/11
When a father was accused of dumping his 8-month-old child into the East River earlier this month, NYPD detectives based overseas were the ones who helped track him to Thailand.
NYPD Intelligence Sgt. Edward Lee is based in Singapore and meets regularly with his counterparts with the Royal Thai Police. With a couple of calls, Thai authorities were notified to be on the lookout, and they were standing at the ready to deny the suspect entry to their country as soon as his plane landed.
Two hours later, Lee was sitting in an airport interrogation room helping to question suspect James Currie.
Lee told News 4's I-Team in an exclusive interview, "We have the ability and the capability to bring someone to justice no matter where they may flee throughout the world."
Police said Currie fled New York after his son’s body was found floating near the Brooklyn Bridge. A search for him across the city for him turned up nothing -- and then detectives learned he was already in the air en route to Abu Dhabi.
In addition to alerting Homeland Security Investigations Agents and U-S Customs officers, the NYPD reached out to its liason officer based in Abu Dhabi. Det. Andrew Kamarchevakul alerted his counterparts, and local authorities raced to meet the plane at the gate.
"They knew the severity of the case and they wanted to help out," said Kamarchevakul. But Currie had quickly changed flights and was now en route to India with a final stop planned for Thailand. NYPD intelligence commanders put Kamarchevakul on the next flight to Bangkok, asking Lee to request Thai police to be at the ready.
"It’s 1, 2 in the morning," Kamarchevakul said. "So guys are getting up. We have to act quickly or he is going to get into the country. And it's going to be much more difficult to find him."
Bangkok is a city of about 10 million people.
Lee said the Thai police agreed to cooperate so readily because of the close working relationship forged through the liason program.
"We have a great working relationship," said Lee, who has been embedded in various police departments across Asia over the last three years. "I was able to reach out to them and have them deny entry until I arrived."
The NYPD liason program was originally started after 9/11, meant to improve terror threat information between police departments across the globe. The NYPD has detectives stationed in more than a dozen overseas countries from Britain to Israel to Australia.
Deputy Commissioner John Miller said increasingly, liason officers are being used to help catch international fugitives accused of major New York crimes.
“You can run fast, you can run far, and any law enforcement agency can figure out how to chase you,” Miller said. “What we want to be positioned as is, rather than chasing you, we are waiting for you when you get there.”
On the same day Currie was caught in Thailand, an NYPD detective based in the Dominican Republic was hiking through mountains and fields with Dominican authorities, tracking down two key witnesses needed for a major trial being held in the Bronx.
Miller said having detectives working alongside foreign counterparts, speaking the language, meeting regularly, makes a big difference.
"There’s a big difference when it’s a routine contact from a known player that you deal with all the time than some call from an agency far away. It cuts through language barriers, trust barriers and makes things happen much more quickly."
In the Currie case, Miller points out he was tracked across the globe to Thailand and returned to New York for trial in just a matter of days.
The funding for the detectives' travel overseas is provided by the not-for-profit New York City Police Foundation.