YONKERS, N.Y. – The surname of the man widely reported to be the next director of the FBI may sound familiar to Yonkers residents.
James Comey, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and apparent choice of President Barack Obama to lead the FBI, was born in Yonkers. He lived in the city until his teenage years before his family moved to Allendale, New Jersey where he graduated high school.
But Comey’s family ties to Yonkers extend decades earlier.
Comey is the grandson of William Comey, a longtime Yonkers police officer and former commissioner in the department.
According to a biography on the city website, William Comey was born in Yonkers in 1892. After graduating from the St. Joseph's Catholic school system, he worked as a carpenter before being hired as a Yonkers police officer in 1920, working in the traffic division.
From there, he made his way up the ranks, culminating with his appointment as commissioner of the Yonkers Police Department in 1947.
“The law enforcement career of William J. Comey is one which most certainly can be categorized as a success story,” the official biography reads. “However, it was also one of the most unusual rises to the leadership of the entire police department that was experienced to that date.”
According to the department, Comey was hailed as a hero while working as a patrol officer in 1922 when he corralled a runaway horse pulling a milk wagon down McLean Avenue.
In a letter of commendation, then Commissioner Thomas Tobin, said Comey “threw his arms around the horses head as it sped by him” and steered the hose away from an oncoming trolley car. In the process, Comey was dragged from McLean Avenue to Ludlow Street before the animal came to a stop.
The department also commended Comey for his work in stopping a series of burglaries as well his role in the arrests of a suspect in a sexual assault and a purse snatcher.
Eventually, Comey worked his way up the ranks, being promoted to sergeant, lieutenant and commanding officer of the detective division before being appointed Deputy Public Safety Commissioner.
In 1952, after 32 years of service and five years after being appointed head of the Yonkers Police Department, Comey retired from the force. He died 24 years later, in 1976, in a New Jersey nursing home at the age of 83.
But apparently, his grandfather’s law enforcement career is not lost on James Comey.
According to a report by Style Weekly, while he was working as a U.S. Attorney in Richmond, Va., Comey’s office featured a framed photo of his grandfather escorting a suspect to prison after a shootout with police in 1929.
Comey’s appointment as director of the FBI, confirmed by several media outlets, has not yet been officially announced by the White House. It is a 10 year appointment.
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