RACINE — James J. Carvino, who worked his way up the ranks of the New York Police Department before serving as Racine Police Chief for seven years, died last Sunday in Boise, Idaho.

Carvino, 81, died Feb. 14 after a long illness, according to the Boise Police Department, where he served as chief from 1988 to 1993.

Carvino served as Racine police chief from 1977 to 1984.

When he took over in 1977, Racine had the state’s third largest police department with 207 officers, according to the department’s 1977 Annual Progress Report.

In his first year at the helm, Carvino added an investigator to handle complaints of police misconduct, created a weapons review board to investigate all incidents in which a firearm was involved, and developed an agility testing course for new police candidates.

Also in the report, Carvino expressed his admiration of Racine police officers. “They have a lot more expertise than a New York City patrolman,” he said in the report. “The climate is different. In New York City, a policeman is not held in the esteem he is here.”

Current Police Chief Art Howell and Lt. Chuck Weitzel are the only members of the department hired by Carvino who are still active, Howell said.

Howell and Weitzel were in the police academy during the final months of Carvino’s tenure, Howell said. “We never had a chance to work for him, as he moved on to another job shortly after we graduated,” Howell said.

Carvino left Racine in September 1984 to become head of the United States Capitol Police in Washington, D.C. He moved to Boise in 1988.

After retiring from the Boise department, Carvino worked as director of security for the Morrison-Knudsen construction company.

Carvino came to Racine after spending 22 years with the New York Police Department. He advanced from rookie patrolman walking a beat in Hell’s Kitchen to captain in charge of narcotics investigations in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The son of a Brooklyn longshoreman, Carvino lied about his age at 16 to enlist in the Navy, serving on three submarines during the Korean War.

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