Police Officer William T. Birch

Police Officer William T. Birch

Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

End of Watch Sunday, September 4, 1966

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William T. Birch

Police Officer William Birch was shot and killed while when he responded to a holdup alarm at a hotel on Route 4 West at 0045 hours. As he arrived on scene one of the two suspects exited the hotel lobby and shot him three times, killing him. The suspect then abducted a couple at gunpoint and forced them to drive away. The suspect was arrested a short time later after a shootout with officers. The man he abducted also assisted with the arrest as he was armed at the time the suspect abducted them.

The second suspect was also apprehended after a shootout with officers. The suspect who shot Officer Birch was sentenced to death but had the sentenced commuted to life in prison in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished. The man was paroled in 1982.

In January 2005, at the age of 79, the suspect was arrested in Massachusetts for attempting to sell a handgun to an informant while bragging that he killed a police officer in New Jersey and got away with serving only 15 years. He was returned to prison in New Jersey for violating his parole. He died in prison 2 years later.

Officer Birch had been with the agency for just over two years and was survived by his wife and three daughters.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 2 years, 6 months
  • Badge 134

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Died in prison


Most Recent Reflection

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Fifty years ago tonight, PO William T. Birch reported for his final late tour on behalf of the Fort Lee Police Department and the citizens of the Borough of Fort Lee. On the 50th anniversary of his passing, as we spend precious time with our loved ones during this holiday weekend, we should all remember the sacrifice which Billy Birch made and honor his eternal memory. As a ten-year old kid from Washington Heights, NY, I was actually in Fort Lee on the day of his funeral, visiting my aunt, and saw the procession. Little did I know, almost 12 years later I'd be serving as a police officer in the very same Department; and a great honor it was to have done so for nearly 6 years. God bless. Former FLPD PO Lee Aivazis

Special Agent in Charge Lee Aivazis
US Secret Service (Ret.)

September 3, 2016

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