No parole for cop-killer Herman Bell

For ambushing and assassinating NYPD Patrolman Waverly Jones and Patrolman Joseph Piagentini, Herman Bell should call Great Meadow Correctional Facility “home” until the day he meets his maker


Editor’s Note:

Editor’s Note: I want to thank PoliceOne Member Chris Leo — a retired corrections supervisor from the New York State Department of Corrections who tracks matters such as these on his website — who emailed me last week to let me know that Herman Bell is up for parole again.

Just shy of two years ago — in a column thanking PoliceOne Members for helping to keep would-be cop killer Ollie Tate behind bars — I wrote that a New York State inmate named Herman Bell was then being considered for parole.

Weeks after posting that January 2012 column, Bell’s parole was denied for the fifth time.

Well folks, we’re back at square one — Bell is up for parole again. Here’s why this is important.

Darkness Befalls New York’s 32nd
Bell was one of three members of the Black Liberation Army — Albert Washington and Anthony Bottom were the other two — who ambushed and assassinated NYPD Patrolman Waverly Jones and Patrolman Joseph Piagentini in Harlem on the night of May 21, 1971.

According to ODMP, as Piagentini and Jones “were returning to their cruiser at approximately 2200 hours, three suspects snuck up behind them and opened fire. Patrolman Jones was struck in the back of the head and killed instantly. Patrolman Piagentini was shot 13 times and succumbed to his injuries en route to the hospital.”

For his crimes, a jury’s sentence for Bell was 25 to life. Bell has done the 25, no doubt about that, but the life part remains undone.

Because New York State has a policy in which even cop killers are up for parole every two years, Bell is again being considered for parole.

The New York State Department of Corrections and Supervision has not been specific about the date of Bell’s upcoming parole hearing, indicating only that it would take place “in February.”

Consequently, I’d advise that PoliceOne Members send notes in opposition to parole for Bell — inmate #DIN 79C0262 — “in January.”

Simply click here to submit your opposition to Bell’s potential parole.

On numerous occasions in the past five years, I’ve written about the efforts to keep behind bars anyone who has killed — or attempted to kill — a police officer. In each instance thus far, we have been successful.

Let’s do it again. Advocates for his release contend that Bell has “helped so many people throughout the course of his confinement and is still leading a positive and progressive life.”

This may be so, but the fact of the matter is that Bell left Piagentini’s wife and two daughters without their beloved Joseph — from Mrs. Jones and her three children, Herman Bell stole a wonderful husband named Waverly.

For his crimes, Herman Bell should call the Great Meadow Correctional Facility “home” until the day he meets his maker.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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