Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Chloe Wojtowicz's Senior Art Thesis

Richard  Price

Chloe  Wojtowicz 
A History of the New York Police Department

Richard Price: Corruption and Its Influence on the Individual

Richard Price depicts the negative influence of corrupt urban communities on the individual. A person within a society has the ability to lead a decent life, however due to the surrounding corruption, one falls victim to it following a period of isolation. In Price’s novel Lush Life, he uses his characters to convey this message. Matty Clark is an extremely committed NYPD sergeant, but unfortunately his role as a protector of New York society takes priority over his family life. The New York City’s constant crime fuels his career as a protector, but results in a deepening isolation from his family. His own children lose their identities as he refers to them solely as “the older one” and the “other one.” As a sergeant, Matty is constantly exposed to the city’s corruption and deception which negatively influences his own personal development.

Crime in New York City has been stimulating the organization and practices of the New York Police Department since 1845. Corruption both in and outside the department’s walls has impacted life in New York City since the nineteenth century. Throughout the century, Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party political machine, exercised influence over the NYPD. Enriching themselves through illegal activity, this corrupt group of politicians plagued New York politics and law enforcement for decades until the Lexow Committee brought it to an end in 1894. From 1895 to 1897, Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt instituted reforms such as the distribution of medals for good police work and promotions to rid the department of Tammany’s influence. During the 20th century, numerous investigative developments were made, such as the introduction of fingerprinting in 1906 to solve criminal cases and two-way radio patrol cars in 1950. The early twenty-first century served as a true test of the strength and preparedness of the NYPD. The department’s dedicated officers exhibited vigor and stability during the attacks of September 11th, 2001. The New York Police Department has encountered both triumphs and failures; despite the hardships, this force of 40,000 continues to set the standard for policing in the U.S. today.

Major Works Consulted:

Lardner, James and Thomas Reppetto. NYPD: a City and Its Police. New York: Henry and Holt, 2000.
Price, Richard. Freedomland. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.
Price, Richard. Lush Life. New York: Douglas & Mcintyre, 2008.
Riordan, William. Plunkitt of Tammnay Hall. New York: Kessinger, 1995.
Photo Credit: Price, Richard. Lush Life. New York: Douglas & Mcintyre, 2008.