Walter Gallagher: Fingerprint Expert

These letters were found in Pop’s police file, not in the actual scrapbooks … but they help tell his story, so I’m including them here.  The first is asking permission to send Pop to fingerprint school in New York.


1930 03 25 - letter to send Walter to NYPD fingerprint schoolMarch 25, 1930

The Hon. Grover C. Whalen,
Police Commissioner,
City of New York.


I respectfully request that Patrolman Walter W. Gallagher, Police Dept. Ridgefield, N. J., be permitted to study your system of finger print classification and filing and photography in the New York Police Bureau,of Criminal Identification.

Ridgefield being within the Metropolitan District would profit by an expert in this line and might be of service to the New York Dept. at some time.

Respectfully submitted,



The next is approving the request:


1930 03 26 - letter accepting Walter in NYPD fingerprint schoolPOLICE DEPARTMENT
City of New York

March 26, 1930.

George F. Darrow, Esq.,
Borough of Ridgefield,
Bergen County, N. J.

Dear Sir:-

In reply to your request of the 25th inst., to have Patrolman Walter W. Gallagher of your department study our system of fingerprint classification, filing and photography, wish to advise that we are glad to be of such service to you.

If Patrolman Gallagher will call with proper credentials on Inspector Joseph Donovan, Room 218, Police Headquarters, 240 Centre Street, Manhattan, any day between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M. except Saturdays and Sundays, he will be given proper attention.  Of course, it must be understood that in taking this course, Patrolman Gallagher must comply with the rules and regulations of this department.

Yours very truly,
[John Brun] (?)
Chief Inspector.


Then contact is made with Inspector Donovan:


1930 03 28 - letter permitting Walter to attend criminal ID schoolMarch 28, 1930

Insp. Joseph Donovan,
Police Department,
New York City.

Dear Sir:-

The Chief Inspector of your Department has granted permission to the Ridgefield Department to have one of our members take the course in Criminal Identification at your school.

Ptl. Walter W. Gallagher has been designated; will you please direct him as to his duties.

Yours truly,



And finally, the memo to the Commission advising of Pop’s new role for the next three months:


1930 03 28 - memo to commission for Walter's NYPD schoolMarch 28, 1930

To Police Commissioners

From Supervisor

Subject – Criminal Identification

1 – Attached hereto is letter granting permission to a member of this Department to study criminal identification at the Detective Bureau, New York Police Department.

2 – I hereby make application for permission to assign Ptl. Walter W. Gallagher to this course for a period of ninety days.

3 – During the time of such assignment, Ptl. Gallagher to be assigned to the tour of duty at desk 5:30 P.M. to 1 A.M. continuously.

Respectfully submitted,

[Geo Darrow]


I don’t know if that meant Pop was supposed to go to fingerprint school all day, then come back and work until 1 a.m. or what … but I have a feeling he experienced some pretty long days during that three months.


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