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Book Excerpt: Cop on the Beat

Cop on the Beat: Officer Steven Mayfield in New York City

Written and Photographed by Arlene Schulman
Published by Dutton

His shoes are flawlessly shined, his shirt is precisely ironed and neatly tucked in, his shield gleams, and the creases in his dark blue pants stand so razor sharp they look dangerous. His paces from a cautious walk to a brisk run, through sheets of rain, mounds of snow, and the glare of a hot sun. His hat, its brim neatly dusted, usually conceals the top half of his eyes, making him a bit mysterious. His six-foot-three, 235 pound frames imposes but doesn't threaten. At night, he moves quietly among the dark shadows of trees and buildings, stepping out into the soft light of street lamps and disappearing back into the darkness. He moves so stealthily that local residents have dubbed him "the Shadow." But at the moment, something suspicious has caught the eye of New York City police officer Steven Mayfield, and he freezes.

Officer Mayfield is trained to react to emergencies, and now, his first day back at work after two days off, his instincts warn him to take action. He can handle this alone, but he cannot continue his patrol until this mall but offensive situation is quickly dealt with.

Mayfield picks a piece of lint off his dark blue uniform shirt. "Damn!" he groans. "Where did this come from?" He runs his hands over his shirt to be certain that the lint hasn't multiplied, and satisfied that he is spotless again, he continues his walking patrol of his beat.

It's the third hour of his tour, which began at four this Tuesday afternoon. He will finish just after midnight. Officer Mayfield is a beat cop. Though he sometimes patrols in a car with a partner, he usually works alone, walking or cycling the streets of the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood. Mayfield carries a gun, a badge, a police radio, a flashlight, a nightstick, and handcuffs. They represent law and order in their small piece of New York City.


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