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I say we give Mr. Roosevelt all the rope he wants. We'll see if he doesn't soon hang himself with it.
— Byrnes to Lincoln Steffens[src]

Thomas Byrnes is the former NYPD Commissioner involved in the corruption of political figures in the city.

He's a guest starring character portrayed by Ted Levine.

Backstory Edit

Born in Dublin, Ireland to James and Rose Byrnes, he immigrated with his family to New York City as a child. In adulthood, Byrnes became a policeman and rose in the ranks to the point of becoming Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. He won national distinction, and during his tenure, he made changes to the still-developing structure of law enforcement. Thomas Byrnes, moreover, became known for his inclination to resort to violence, instructing recruits as ruthless soldiers. During this time, he was faithfully served by his subordinates, such as Captain Connor and Sergeant Doyle.

In 1895, Byrnes was replaced by Theodore Roosevelt as Commissioner of the New York City Police. That was due to Roosevelt's drive to rid the police department of corruption.

Story Edit

New York City Police Department, 1896. Former commissioner Byrnes paid a visit to Captain Connor and the rest of the police officers at the Police Station to congratulate them on the capture of Henry Wolff, the man who had butchered the "Boy on the Bridge" and stabbed to death another man some night before. When questioned about it by some journalists outside the police station, he gave all the merits to Captain Connor and his men, putting a pipe in his mouth and showing off his former subordinates, such as Sergeant Doyle.

Journalist Lincoln Steffens asked him what he thought about Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt and his new policies, to which Byrnes replied to give Roosevelt all the rope he wanted to see if he doesn't soon hang himself with it, causing a burst of laughter among the bystanders. Another journalist asked him what he was doing in his spare time now that he retired from his role as Chief of the Police Department; Byrnes replied that he speculated on Wall Street and that Mr. Morgan and some of his associates had been very generous with advice about it.

The conversation was soon interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, attracting all the attention of the journalists inquiring about his involvement with the investigation, and leaving Byrnes with a bitter taste. Byrnes watched on the sidelines as Kreizler crossed the entrance of the Police station together with John Schuyler Moore, giving the alienist and his associate a glance full of resentment and scornfulness. [1]

Appearance and Personality Edit

Former Chief Police Thomas Byrnes is a conservative man with a view of the world based on strict preconceptions. During his tenure as Chief of the New York City Police Department, Byrnes formed recruits with discipline and severity. He taught them respect for the uniform, as well as teaching them that as law enforcement, they themselves are the law and can and should use violence against criminals. Byrnes is reluctant to change and innovative ideas but, unlike his former right-hand Connor, he knows when it is useful to put aside prejudices to achieve a goal.

Thomas Byrnes has repeatedly given way to understand that he is willing to play dirty. However, always within the limits imposed by the "Powers That Be", or the elitist group known as "The Four Hundreds." This is particularly evident from a conversation with Connor, during which Byrnes expressed his understanding of the social hierarchy, recognizing his place within it.

Thomas Byrnes is a Caucasian middle-aged man with a sturdy build, medium height, and a stiff posture. He has gray hair, stern blue eyes, and a handlebar mustache. His clothes are elegant and consist of a double-breasted suit, shiny black shoes, bowler hat and accessories like cufflinks and pocket watch. As a former Chief Police Officer, his appearance is more elegant and clean than other policemen in civilian clothes.

Memorable Quotes Edit

Thomas Byrnes (to Lincoln Steffens): "I say we give Mr. Roosevelt all the rope he wants. We'll see if he doesn't soon hang himself with it."
The Boy on the Bridge

Thomas Byrnes (to Connor): "Let me tell you how this city is run, ya stupid mick. We serve the rich and in return, they raise us above the primordial filth. And God helps us if we don't keep our end of the bargain."
Thomas Byrnes (to Connor): "You see, to them, you and me are nothing but dumb animals, no better than the lowlifes and the tenement scum we protect 'em from. It doesn't matter that they that they got soft hands and that they dress in silk bloomers. So long as they have money, we do their biddin'. And if you don't, they'll pay someone twice your size to sink you to the bottom of the river, like you no doubt done to their son! So don't tell me that you bloody took care of it!"
Many Sainted Men

Gallery Edit

Notes Edit

  • Thomas Byrnes is the in-universe depiction of Thomas F. Byrnes, an Irish-born American police officer, who served as head of the New York City Police Department detective department from 1880 until 1895, who popularized the term rogues gallery.

Episode Appearance Edit

References Edit

  1. Hossein Amini (writer) & Jakob Verbruggen (director); (January 22, 2018); "The Boy on the Bridge". Episode 1. The Alienist. TNT