James B. White, a former longtime president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, died Sept. 6 following a brief hospitalization. He was 82.
White led JSA from 1965 until 1992, a period of change and growth for the group, as there was a growing awareness of security issues within the industry.
“Jim was a giant of this industry, a great man who commanded huge respect and admiration,” said John J. Kennedy, White’s successor as JSA president and counsel. “He made enormous contributions to the industry’s safety and security. Even today, in travels around the country, jewelers frequently tell me that [what] Jim [did] helped them prevent a crime or even saved their lives. He touched thousands of jewelers in a positive way.”
Born and raised in Manhattan, White became an FBI agent after service as a U.S. Army Air Force officer in World War II. He later was appointed an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, a prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney, and a counsel for the Waterfront Commission of New York. Before coming to JSA, he gained recognition for investigating and prosecuting gambling scandals involving college basketball, and he also was part of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign against organized crime.
White joined JSA in 1964 and became its executive secretary (later president) and counsel in 1965 upon the death of his predecessor, Richard C. Murphy.
He quickly broadened the purpose of JSA, founded in 1883, to focus on practical crime prevention and security training for jewelers as well as crime fighting.
That, noted JCK later, led to “a host of innovations” by White that benefited JSA’s jewelry industry members. These included countless crime prevention bulletins to alert the membership; information on how to contact local police, the FBI, or JSA; phone alerts to quickly warn jewelers of criminals targeting the jewelry industry as well as theft schemes, burglaries, robberies, and other problems.
He meticulously analyzed and reported on security procedures and new security equipment such as burglar-resistant glass and burglary alarm systems. By the 1970s, noted JCK, White was able to “convince many alarm companies and jewelers to upgrade their systems to thwart now-electronically savvy crooks.”
White authored the first JSA Manual of Jewelry Security and wrote crime prevention reports—such as Salesmen’s Security—for various segments of the jewelry industry.He also changed JSA’s view onjewelers and guns. Worried about jewelers’ safety, White actively warned them against keeping loaded guns on their premises or trying to sound burglary alarms during an armed robbery.
In the 1980s, White began to take advantage of computer technology, creating JSA’s data bank on jewelry crime. He also worked as consultant with Jewelers Mutual Insurance on award-winning crime prevention videos for the jewelry industry.
During his 27 years leading JSA, White logged some 50,000 miles annually on a relentless schedule of lectures, talks, and seminars at jewelry trade shows, conventions, and jewelry firms; issued more than 100 “Wanted Bulletins” on criminals who attack the jewelry industry (almost all of whom were eventually caught); and authored 400-plus publications on security issues. Each day, JSA made anywhere from 30 to 80 phone callsto follow up leads, prevent crimes, and aid law enforcement.
“Jim played a crucial role in all security issues affecting the jewelry industry for almost 30 years, from recognizing dangers from safe-burglary gangs in the late 1960s and 1970s, to the attacks of Colombian gangs on traveling salespeople, which started in the early 1980s, to growing credit card fraud in the 1990s,” said Kennedy.
On Dec. 31, 1992, White retired and turned over leadership of JSA to Kennedy, his handpicked successor, though he remained a consultant for two years.
White also was secretary of the 24-Karat Club of New York City for more than 30 years and received many awards and honors during his long career.
A long-time resident of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., he is survived by his wife Eileen, four sons, and one daughter. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Dobbs Ferry Ambulance Corp. Inc., P.O. Box 245, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522.