James B. White, the former long-time president and counsel of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, died Sept. 5, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., following a brief hospitalization. He was 82.
White presided over the JSA from the mid-1960s until the early 1990s, a period of great change and growth for it. “Jim was one of the giants of this industry,” John J. Kennedy, White’s successor as JSA president and counsel, told JCK. “He made enormous contributions to the safety and security of the entire industry.”
White joined the JSA in 1964. A former FBI agent and assistant U.S. attorney for New York, he was an experienced investigator and prosecutor who participated in then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s program against organized crime.
In 1965, White was named JSA’s executive secretary (later president) and counsel, on the death of his predecessor, Richard C. Murphy.
White quickly changed the long-time purpose of JSA, founded in 1883. Rather than focus only on finding jewelry crooks after the fact, the JSA, under White, began working to prevent crimes against jewelers and to educate them on how on how to do so.
White’s decision to concentrate on crime prevention, noted Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone later, “led to a host of innovations” that benefited its jewelry industry members. They included up-to-the-minute alerts and flash bulletins; information on how to contact local police, the FBI or JSA; phone alerts and phone chains to quickly warn jewelers of criminals targeting the jewelry industry, as well as theft schemes, burglaries, robberies, and other problems.
He began meticulously analyzing and reporting to the industry on various security procedures and on new security equipment coming on the market, such as burglar-resistant glass or burglary alarm systems. By the 1970s, noted JCK later, White was able to “convince many alarm companies and jewelers to upgrade their systems to thwart now-electronically savvy crooks.” He also wrote special crime prevention reports for various segments of the jewelry industry, such as the booklet, Salesmen’s Security.
White also changed JSA’s view on jewelers and guns. Worried about jewelers’ safety in robbers, he actively urged jewelers against keeping loaded guns on their premises, trying to resist armed robbers or sounding burglary alarms during an armed robbery.
In the 1980s, White began to take advantage of the growing computer technology to aid JSA’s crime fighting an prevention efforts.” He also worked as consultant with the Jewelers Mutual Insurance on a series of award-winning crime prevention videos for the jewelry industry.
During his 27 years leading JSA, White logged some 50,000 miles annually flying to jewelry industry functions to promote crime prevention, the JSA issued some 400-plus publications on security issues, and made 30 to 80 calls a day to follow up on leads, prevent crimes and aid law enforcement.
On Dec. 31, 1992, White retired and turned over leadership of JSA to his successor as president and counsel, John J. Kennedy. Even after retirement, though, White maintained his link with JSA, continuing for a consultant to it for two years.
Contributions in White’s memory can be made to the Dobbs Ferry Ambulance Corp. Inc., P.O. Box 245, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. 10522.Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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