The name is Odafin Tutuola. You can call me Fin. Or if I think you're a punk, Detective Tutuola. That's right. I'm a detective with the NYPD Special Victims Unit.
I was born and raised in Central Harlem. My dad, Olufemi, and mom, Dayo, emigrated from Lagos, Nigeria in 1960 with my oldest sister Kayin, after the political turmoil that occurred after Nigera gained its independence from the UK. I was born shortly after they got here, followed by my younger brother, Lekan, two years later, then my younger sister, Monifa, two years after that. My dad supported the family as a construction worker while my mom stayed at home.
That all changed in 1968 when my dad was killed by a stray bullet while walking home from work one night, during the race riots. My mom started washing clothes from our apartment to make ends meet, but it was barely enough for our large family. My mom tried to keep her family together, we rarely had enough to eat or money to pay the bills. When Kayin moved out with her 20-year-old boyfriend when she was 15, my mom’s spirit finally seemed to be crushed, and we just came and went as we pleased.
By the time I was 9, I had started hanging out with a neighborhood gang, an early tributary to the Rollin’ 30s Crips. I ran drugs and weapons for older guys to make extra money, and by the time I was in middle school I was involved in petty crimes like robbery and slinging drugs for the gang. I quickly fell behind in high school and dropped out in 1980, which is when my mother cut off ties with me. I remained on the outskirts of the gang, selling drugs and partying, unlike Lekan, who had followed in my footsteps but quickly become a major member, involved in number of murders and heavy drug trafficking. I’ll never forgive myself for that.
In 1984, when I was 22, I got my then girlfriend, Theresa, pregnant. We were married in February 1985, the month after our son Ken was born. The marriage was rocky and didn’t last long. Theresa didn’t like my gang affiliation, however minor, and the company I kept. She left me in 1988 when Ken was four. When Theresa left, I decided to clean up my life. I cut off any ties he had with the Crips, which unfortunately meant my brother as well. I earned my GED and entered the police academy in 1990.
I worked as a patrol officer in Harlem for two years before being assigned to the Narcotic unit. My previous experience and neighborhood contacts helped a lot, and within three years I was promoted to detective. Around this time I got back with Theresa. However, work took up a lot of my time and we split up again. I was involved in a bunch of long-term undercover operations with my partner, Sheldon Bankett. The two of us were a dream team. More busts and convictions than any pair in Narcotics history. However in November of 1999, during a shootout in a cocaine bust gone wrong in Chinatown, a bullet hit Sheldon that was meant for me and he died. I didn’t take it so well and transferred out of Narcotics.
I was then placed in SVU as a replacement for Detective Monique Jeffries, and was partnered with Detective John Munch.
Ever since I was young, I’ve been real good keeping my emotions to myself. After my dad died I became the “man of the house” and had to deal with outbursts from my mom and sisters. I learned to bottle things in and keep things cool. It made me a good gang member, an ever better cop but a lousy husband.
My “gruff” attitude worked in Narcotics, it didn’t really fly in SVU. As the years go on, things have changed. I relate better to victims, and will especially go the extra mile for a fellow brother or sister.
Whatever sympathy I’ve gained for victims is balanced by a straight across the board, disapproval of criminals. I see things in black and white and believe all criminals deserve to do time behind bars. I started thinking that after my dad got shot. It’s also why I’m a registered republican. My parents were immigrants who worked hard to earn what they did and I have little tolerance or respect for people who slide by, don’t take responsibility or expect things to be handed to them.
In recent years, Ken has come back into my life. It’s been real rough; we’ve got some issues from the past that keep coming up. When Ken turned to Olivia for help before me, I was upset, but it made me want to try to open up more and be more approachable. Sometimes people say I get too closet to some victims (like Violet, the mother of a missing girl) and am willing to break procedure for them..
Outside of hanging out at work I like Munch a hard time, and mocking his conspiracy theories. I have plenty of time to do this when I pick up Munch every morning on his way to work. Paranoid old man won’t buy a car, something about the government controlling his life.
I hang out with the guys I worked Narcotics a lot still. I’m not so public about it, but I like to read, especially the news and non-fiction.
I live in a small apartment in Morningside Heights. I refuse to move out of the Harlem area, hang out in the neighborhood when I’m not down in Midtown at work. I don’t date and I'm sure as hell not looking.