About the New York Police Department
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
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.
Steven V. Gure
is a former New York City Police Department police officer and the author of Life: A True Story. According to the book description, “His
is a remarkable story. Born into a family of wealthy European Jews, Steven found
his life filled with horror and upheaval after the Nazi occupation of his native Lithuania when he was five years old. All of his family except his older sister, Ann, perished in the Holocaust. Eventually, Steven and Ann managed to make their way to the United States, where further insecurities awaited
in the form of a series of foster homes, orphanages, and the like.
and perseverance, however, Steve managed to survive and even to prosper. He served
in the military, worked his way through college, got married and had children, and joined the New York City police force. Becoming a cop was, for him, a way of proving his physical capabilities and a means
to achieving a secure livelihood with an opportunity for early retirement. This
it proved to be.
of his time with the NYPD are vivid and revealing. Indeed, this candid, forthright
quality holds forth throughout the book, whether the author is discussing departmental snafus or family upsets. Steven V. Gure's is a life examined - and found worth living.”