Greenwich Police are mourning the passing of one its original undercover drug investigators.
Retired Detective James J. Lunney Jr., who was one of the two original members of the Greenwich Police narcotics unit founded in the 1970s, died Nov. 20 in St. Lucie County, FL. Det. Lunney, 69, was riding his motorcycle on Route A1A when a teenage motorist made an illegal U-turn in front of him, causing an unavoidable crash, according to Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey.
According to TCPalm.com, Det. Lunney was thrown from his bike. Heavey said Lunney was an avid motorcyclist.
He moved from Greenwich to Jensen Beach in 2004 where he lived with his wife Katie, according to his obituary on the Aycock Funeral Home website.
The move followed Det. Lunney's retirement from the Greenwich Police Department in 1987 after 23 1/2 years of service. Monday morning, purple mourning bunting was draped outside police headquarters, the American flag at half-staff, and a memorial with a photo of Lunney was placed in the lobby.
"He was one of two officers who started the first narcotics section with his former partner Frank Garr, who's now a supervisory inspector with state's attorney's office," Heavey said. "In 1982 they received the John Clarke award (the Greenwich Lions Club police service award) ... they made 54 arrests in 58 cases they investigated" that year, according to Heavey.
Despite being retired in Florida, Det. Lunney "still maintained a lot of contact with people here. He would visit (the department) often — he still had a lot of friends here," Heavey added.
"Jim and I were very close. We were partners for nearly 15 years," Garr recalled Tuesday. "I considered him more of a brother than a partner. We just did a lot of work together and spent a lot of time off the job together. I loved the guy.
Garr added, "He was a great person. He had a tremendous heart — he would do anything for anyone. Jim was a great cop, a great detective. You can’t say enough about him."
Det. Lunney was one of two lead investigators in the Oct. 30, 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in Belle Haven. "His goal was to solve that crime … he was always striving towards being able to do that (until his retirement) The information that became available just wasn’t available at that time," Garr said.
"When the crime was solved, he couldn’t have been more happy or ecstatic about it," Garr added. Michael Skakel, a former Moxley neighbor, was convicted in 2002 with fatallly beating Moxley with a golf club, and is serving a 20-year to life sentence.
Garr said he and his former partner maintained a warm relationship "making time to visit one another whenever he came up (from Florida), talking on the phone. I spoke to him just three or four days before the accident."
A memorial service for Det. Lunney will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 26 at St. Mary Church on Greenwich Avenue.
"Our condolences go out to his family. This is very sad," Heavey said.