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Philip Mahony

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About the New York Police Department (NYPD):

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.





Philip Mahony joined the New York City Police Department in the early 1980s.  As of 1998, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant. He is the author of volumes of poetry, Catching Bodies and Supreme – Poems.  His an BA and MA in English Literature, has taught at New York University, and was the editor of From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath.


According to a reader of Catching Bodies, “With the blast of a 12 gauge point blank. His work comes straight off the street, undiluted by romanticism or the glorification of violence. Its an attempt to convey the life of a beat coop without cliché or comedy. Mahoney’s poetry is a self defense reaction against the unbearable senselessness of suffering. He cannot save souls, he can only catch the bodies”


According to a reader of Supreme – Poems, “the very heart of NYC. He is a cop so his stories are told in the matter of fact manner of a seasoned veteran. The streets have gotten meaner since "Catching Bodies" but Mahoney cannot stop himself from confronting the violence and senselessness of this new generation, kids clinging to a superficial understanding of Muslim religion, and quick to shoot-out over nothing. The answers are not pretty in this book, but good poetry rarely is, and the eyes of a New York beat cop won't spare your sensibilities.”

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