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The Coffey Files: One Cop's War Against the Mob
Joseph J. Coffey  More Info

From the History of the New York City Police Department 

But those old Watchmen were, as a class, very respectable men, and many of them belonged to very good families. The roughs and toughs of those days were in no way interior or superior to their congeners, with whom our citizens are but too familiar. Nevertheless, the statement may be hazarded that the Watchman's low was even a less happy one than that of the Policeman of the present day. the former was not uniformed or armed, save as to a club; he was not so well protected by the law in his warfare on criminals; the system lacked effective organization, and there was an entire absence of that esprit du corps which so distinguishes our own Police force.

"New York City," says Mrs. Lamb, in the history of the City of New York, "by this time appeared like a youth much overgrown for his years. It has shot up with a rapidity that defies calculation." Wealth was increasing faster than sobriety was inclined to measure. Swarming multitudes from very quarter of the globe were rendering the community--in a certain sense--unformed. Educational and charitable institutions were multiplying.

On the seventh of April, 1830, an amended charter was granted to the city, which provided for separate, meetings of he two boards, and excluded the Mayor and Recorder from the Common Council, giving the Mayor, however, the power of approving or disapproving the acts of this body. In the course of the following year the Fifteenth Ward was added to the city.

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Our Police Protectors

Holice and Debbie

Joseph Coffey retired from the NYPD in 1985 and went on to become the principal investigator of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. Joseph He is the author of “The Coffey Files: One Cop's War Against the Mob.”

Kirkus reviews said of The Coffey Files: One Cop's War Against the Mob, “Absorbing roundup of an ace NYPD detective's big cases. Here, written with the help of veteran journalist Schmetterer, is Coffey's view of what it was like to guard Joe Frazier from death threats before his first fight with Ali; to struggle to capture Croatian nationalists who bombed La Guardia (one cop killed) and hijacked a TWA flight to Paris; and to supervise the team trying desperately to nab Son of Sam before he killed again. In 1978, Coffey was named head of N.Y.C.'s first organized-crime squad--but ``let the vermin destroy the vermin'' was the department's view, and Coffey was told his squad would be in existence only 30 days: It was formed as a favor to Mayor Koch, who wanted the public outcry against shootings on city streets appeased. But after Coffey solved two big mob cases, the squad was made permanent and Coffey went after the Westies, an Irish gang operating out of Hell's Kitchen and considered by the detective the ``most vicious mad-dog killers in the city.'' Coffey discovered what no had suspected--an Italian-Irish connection: The Mafia was hiring the Westies to do strong-arm jobs and contract killings. Coffey barged into the Ravenite Social Club and demanded to see ``Big Paulie'' Castellano, then the elderly and dignified capo di tutti capi. Five button men playing poker stared at the crazy cop in disbelief, but a sit- down was arranged. Exciting scenarios, all--but although well written and packed with detail, the book shortchanges its characters, many of whom are only names. And Coffey is shown as a two-dimensional macho man, with a few squibs on his wife and kids thrown in for sympathy. Still: new information on big cases, revelations on NYPD interdepartmental politics, and a rogues' gallery of coldblooded hit men and devious madmen: cop watchers are going to like this, despite its flaws.”

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