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Terry Green, retired Oakland Police Lt. (Photo courtesy of family)

He was once called Oakland's hardest-working police officer who later took his investigative and leadership skills to the national stage.

No matter what his assignment at the Oakland Police Department and later with the FBI, where he tracked serial killers, Terence "Terry" Green gained the respect, trust and confidence of those who worked with him.

Green, a San Francisco native who was an Atherton police officer for four years before coming to Oakland in 1959, died May 21 at age 79 in Oregon, where he had retired. His funeral will be Saturday in Medford, Oregon.

Green always said his best time in law enforcement was as a lieutenant commanding the Oakland homicide unit, which he did from 1977 until his retirement in 1984. In that period he supervised eight sergeants, who investigated more than 900 homicides, including cases involving serial killers and a case in which an 11-year-old boy deliberately drowned a 5-year-old boy, as well as thousands of "unexplained deaths," like suicides and drug overdoses.

Drug-related killings started increasing in that period, and the unit's clearance rate of 80 percent was considered outstanding. It was at that time he received the hardest-working officer accolade from a local law and order group.


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His wife, Donna Green, a retired Alameda County Sheriff's Office commander who once supervised the coroner's office, said Green "was very proud of solving cases for the families. That was very important to him."

In his 25-year Oakland career Green dodged bullets and once had arrows fired at him while responding to a domestic violence call. He rappelled down buildings as the leader of the department's SWAT teams, which he helped create as commander of the Special Operations Section, and was one of the first police officers anywhere to serve a search warrant on a computer in a corporate spying case. He was also the department's only trained hypnotist.

Retired Oakland police Chief George T. Hart called Green an outstanding police officer. "He was a superb field commander, an excellent investigative commander and always exhibited great leadership abilities and tactical capabilities," he said. Just as important, Hart said, was that Green was "a good, good man."

After retiring from Oakland, Green joined the FBI in Quantico, Virginia, where he worked in the Behavioral Science Unit, dramatized in the movie "Silence of the Lambs," and as a senior major case specialist in the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP. Most of those efforts were directed at recognizing and tracking serial killers nationwide and providing assistance to local agencies being terrorized by those kind of psychopaths and other violent criminals. "He made sure (local agencies) were heard and got the resources they needed," said his wife, who retired from the sheriff's office in 1995.

Retired Oakland police Capt. James K. "Chips" Stewart, a past director of the National Institute of Justice who is now director of public safety for the Virginia-based consulting firm CNA, was Green's boss in Oakland and his close friend and admirer.

Stewart helped Green get his FBI job, where he excelled as an analyst and instructor in FBI academies for its agents and its National Academy for police chiefs and senior commanders from across the country.

When Green joined the FBI, the agency did not conduct many homicide investigations and "needed someone who really understood murder investigations and had local ties," Stewart said. "Terry had tremendous insight and seasoned judgment. He was perfect for the job."

Green and FBI profilers visited serial killers incarcerated across the country to see what made them tick, what their motivations and methods were. The findings were incorporated into the FBI's Multi-Agency Investigative Team handbook, a blueprint for law enforcement agencies nationwide on major case multiagency task forces and investigating serial killers and other violent offenders.

In 1988, he helped create and was the first president of the International Homicide Investigators Association, which now includes 26 countries, and he assisted police in England, Mexico and Taiwan in investigations.

Bill Hagmaier, a retired FBI agent who worked with Green and is now executive director of the IHIA, said Green "brought expertise and credibility. He was a giant in our profession due to his commitment to sharing and assisting homicide detectives and victims' families and for his vision for improving the criminal justice system."

Green retired from the FBI in 1995 and eventually settled in Oregon, first in Oakland, Oregon, where Donna Green was police chief for a time, and later in Gold Hill, where he still did consulting. They had been acquainted earlier and married in 1993 after a romance blossomed while she attended the National Academy.

Donna Green said despite all the death and violence her husband saw firsthand, he never became cynical. "He was a kind man who loved people, especially his family." Their marriage and the experiences they shared, she said, was "the best time of my life. I once told him I have not been bored a single minute since I met you."

Besides his wife, Green is survived by sons Terry Jr., Dan and Mike; daughters Kathleen and Eleanor; stepsons John and Tony Toledo; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.