Houdini’s Connection with the Police

HH NYPD Challenge Coin frontHH NYPD Challenge Coin back

I recently acquired this Rare NYPD 104th Precinct Detective Squad Houdini’s Final Rest Challenge Coin.

And it made me reflect on the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks of 2001 that caused more law enforcement line of duty deaths than any single incident in American history.

It also got me thinking about Houdini’s Connection with the Police.

Bob Loomis new book, Houdini’s Final Incredible Secret (which I highly recommend) has a section titled, Using the Police, that references a number of sources that document Houdini’s Connection with the Police.  Below are a couple of the sources:

  • In their book, Ernst and Carrington tell us that Harry always worked hand-in-glove with the police, and they availed themselves of his expert knowledge on more than one occasion.  Houdini’s police connection was confirmed in a July 4, 1925 letter he wrote to fellow psychic researcher Harry Price.  The letter (from the files of The Harry Price Library at The Univerisity of London) states:

“You know I am instructor here to the Police Academy to about hundred and fifty detectives.


  • Silverman said Houdini cultivated lawmen and stayed abreast of their affairs. He bought tickets to the Policeman’s Ball; and, as President of the Society of American Magicians, he arranged a benefit dinner for the widows and orphans of slain policeman. The Commissioner of Police attended that meal.  Houdini even owned a New York City Police Department pass that authorized him to cross “all police lines”.  My favorite quote from Silverman is the statement: “He of course knew his way around police and other law enforcement agencies and was able to enlist their help.”

Image courtesy of Library of Congress

Our friend, David Saltman at Houdinifile.com did a nice post that also references a number of sources that document Houdini’s Connection with the Police.

8 thoughts on “Houdini’s Connection with the Police

  1. Great post!!! I especially like the photo. It appears Houdini is starting roll call for the watch. I would attend his training class. 🙂

  2. I wonder what HH taught at those police lectures. How to catch fraudulent mediums? Interesting that he kept a working relationship with the NYPD long after he dropped the handcuff and prison challenges. He didn’t need their cooperation any more but felt compelled to maintain ties with them.

    Interesting also that in the upside down open air straitjacket escapes, there would usually be a couple of cops strapping him in. I bet Harry used this as a nice touch to let the crowds know that authority figures were doing the pulling and buckling.

  3. No doubt that these were the contents of his lectures, but what were the scams in question? Did he discuss fake mediums, cheating techniques of gamblers, or general street cons?

    I don’t think HH was an expert at gambling cheats. That expertise would come later with John Scarne and Mickey McDougal.

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