David Durk, the author of The
Pleasant Avenue Connection, joined the New York Police Department in 1963. Durk’s NYPD
career as an honest cop awash in police corruption is documented by James Lander in “Crusader: The Hell-Raising Police
Career of Detective David Durk.”
Weekly said of The Pleasant Avenue Connection, “David Durk, an Amherst graduate who had also
spent a year studying law, joined the New York City Police Department in 1963. He was shocked and angered by what he found
there: officers who had chosen police careers on idealistic grounds had learned to conform to the prevailing cynical attitude
in the department because many of their superiors were dishonest, timid, lazy or all of these. Working with the later famous
Frank Serpico, he gathered evidence against the department; they got nowhere until in 1968 they enlisted the interest of the
New York Times, whose exposes resulted in the setting up of the Knapp Commission in 1971, which uncovered corruption in the
NYPD. As a whistle-blower, Durk became persona non grata and was transferred into the finance department, where he unearthed
potential scandals that were never exposed. Still regarded as a troublemaker, he retired in 1985. Lardner (Fast Forward),
a former police officer in the District of Columbia, sees Durk as a hero, a commendation with which readers of this rousing
volume will agree.”
About the New York
The first law-enforcement officer began to patrol the trails and paths of New York City when it was known as New
Amsterdam, and was a Dutch settlement and fort in the year 1625. This lawman was known as a "Schout – fiscal"
(sheriff – attorney) and was charged with keeping the peace, settling minor disputes, and warning colonists if fires
broke out at night. The first Schout was a man named Johann Lampo.
The Rattle Watch was a group of colonists during the Dutch era (1609 - 1664) who patrolled from
sunset until dawn. They carried weapons, lanterns and wooden rattles (that are similar to the ratchet noisemakers used during
New Year celebrations). The rattles made a very loud, distinctive sound and were used to warn farmers and colonists of threatening
situations. Upon hearing this sound, the colonists would rally to defend themselves or form bucket-brigades to put out fires.
The rattles were used because whistles had not yet been invented. The Rattle Watchmen also are believed to have carried lanterns
that had green glass inserts. This was to help identify them while they were on patrol at night (as there were no streetlights
at that time). When they returned to their Watch House from patrol, they hung their lantern on a hook by the front door to
show that the Watchman was present in the Watch House. Today, green lights are still hung outside the entrances of Police
Precincts as a symbol that the "Watch" is present and vigilant.
When the High Constable of New York City, Jacob Hays retired from service in 1844, permission was
granted by the Governor of the state to the Mayor of the City to create a Police Department. A force of approximately 800
men under the first Chief of Police, George W. Matsell, began to patrol the City in July of 1845. They wore badges that had
an eight-pointed star (representing the first 8 paid members of the old Watch during Dutch times). The badges had the seal
of the City in their center and were made of stamped copper.