Vidocq presents…Joe Giacalone!

Meet Joseph L. Giacalone, a 19 year law enforcement Supervisor and Commanding Officer of a Cold Case Squad that has investigated hundreds of homicide and missing person cases throughout his career. 

Joe has a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialty in Crime and Deviance. He is also an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and is the author of the forthcoming textbook “The Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for New Investigators” that will come out in January 2011. In addition, he is the editor of the blog, The Cold Case Squad.

Joe tweets under the account name @ColdCaseSquad when he can figure it out! 

Get to know Joe better!

1: What is your most favourite part of the day?

You can tell by all of the things that I am involved with that I am a night person who requires little sleep. Between regular work, teaching, writing, and now blogging, I realize that there isn’t enough time in the day to get done what I want to, but I give it one hell of a shot!

2.  What is the worst kind of person you ever sat next to on a flight?

I am not a great fan of flying. But on one work related trip, I was booked next to someone who wouldn’t stop talking. I don’t sleep while flying so I like to read or write. For hours, she talked and couldn’t see my not so subtle hints. I had to end it when she even told me about the fungus on her big toe! 

3: Were you ever in a situation where you came up short with a good come back? You can give it now!

In my early days as a new police supervisor I said something to the Captain that he didn’t like.  He stated, “Remember, you are speaking to a superior officer.”  I wish I would have said, “Just a higher ranking one,” and then walked away.

4: Which trials/cases still haunts you till today?

In my job there are a few but if I had to pick one it would have to be the double murder of two young boys.  They were both brutally stabbed to death and dumped at the bottom of a staircase near the compactor room. 

We had a suspect, but could not gather the physical or forensic evidence that would have been necessary to establish probable cause. But, I haven’t given up yet!

5: If you have a blog, how did you get started? Who or what inspired you to blog?

I always wrote articles for others and finally realized I could do it for myself! I recently started the Cold Case Squad to highlight cases from all over the world so maybe someone somewhere knows something and contacts their local police department or a crime stoppers unit. I also get a chance to share some of my expertise with those in the law enforcement community as well as my students. 

6: Did you end up in the profession of your childhood dreams?

My mother would have bet the house that I would have been a fireman because that was all I ever talked about. However, when the time came to register for the fire exam, they had put hiring on hold.  So I took the police test that day instead and here I am nearly 20 years later with absolutely no regrets.

7. Your worst vacation experience?

My wife and I hadn’t been away in awhile and decided to spend a long weekend out on the East End. I knew we were in for it when we attempted to take a shower before going out for dinner, only to find out the boiler was being fixed and there was no hot water. We dealt with it and made it through the showers without having a heart attack.  Later on we returned only to find out there still wasn’t any hot water and now the heat wasn’t working either!  We should have left then but I was a glutton for punishment. 

About 2 o’clock in the morning the heat came on, all was good. At 3 o’clock the boiler blew up, sending smoke and fire throughout the hotel. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but what an adventure!


  1. Professor, this is definitely you.
    But I think that at that time, according to the answer of the third question, you should have answered to your police supervisor the way that you thought you should off.
    Also, I think that it’s good that you have not given up yet about the solving of the case with the murders of the young guys, because police officers don’t give up until they solve cases. It might look like they do, however it’s not the first time that I hear similar comments on unfolded cases, especially with the technology advancement.

  2. Haha, great to see the students here as well!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, V

  3. Professor,

    How long ago was the little boy double murder? You said you had a suspect but no enough evidence to have probable cause. What evidence did you have or tips were you going on to get a suspect? Also did you have the weapon? I hope you get the perp.

    Mark from PSC 301

  4. @ Mark:
    The murders occurred in 1994. There was some evidence from the case but it was destroyed in a fire. I always tell you guys that most people are killed by someone they love, so automatically we zoned in on an individual that also benefited financially. It’s not over yet!

  5. What an interesting career! I cannot wait to jump into my own career in the NYPD. A fireman? I would have never guessed that in a million years…

    I feel Cold Cases should be considered an important part of policing and admire Professor Giacalone and his ongoing work to bring Cold Cases into the light of the modern world. Hopefully with the help of technology, specifically the use of Familial DNA, investigators can solve some of these cases. Dealing with the murder of anyone can be difficult, however dealing with the murders of young children will make even the strongest willed person upset and angry.

    I would hope that in my career I will not see many cases of such heinous crimes. However trying to solve such crimes and working hard to find a perp is something that takes devotion and expertise. Hopefully such cold cases will be solved in our future with Professor Giacalone and other just like him.

    Scott Ruscillo

  6. Peggi Juarez says:

    Professor Giacalone,

    The interview was very funny and informative. When I first started reading the Cold Cases on your website, what kept me interested was the fact that families would finally know what really happened to their loved one(s), who unfortunately were victims of crimes. As with the Familial DNA, which I think it’s a great breakthrough in forensic science, will only lead to positive results in the long run. Now as for your trip with your wife, I think you are nuts! But I get it, you have become immune to such unfortunate events, after having endured an ordeal in the precinct bathrooms! Keep doing what you are doing because it is only getting better for you. Good luck with everything.

    Best Wishes,
    Peggi Juarez

  7. Belinda PSC 201 says:

    It’s good to know there are officers out there working on cases that were long forgotten about. I’m more than sure that the family and friends of the victims who cases were not solved, still live with not knowing what happened to their loved ones and want some form of justice no matter how many years passed.

    Professor, good Luck and keep on pursuing the case of the young boys. I hope you get the person(s) responsible because no child should to be done in that manner.

    I wish you well in all of your cold cases.

  8. Billy Palbalkar says:

    Professor you threw me off with the career path of a firefighter. Then again bumping heads with firefighters throughout your career explains the hatred. Also during your mini get away when FD showed up did they steal anything.

    Good luck with the cold case about those boys.

    Billy Palbalkar PSC301

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