Assistant Chief Michael Collins, who has headed the New York Police department’s press and public information office in recent years, retired from the department last week just as a new class of police officers was graduating.
A towering figure on any street, Collins was a familiar figure over the years on Fifth Avenue as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade prepared to get underway.
He was honored at the 2008 parade by being chosen to blow the official starting whistle.
A 27-year-veteran of the department, Collins, a Brooklyn native whose Irish roots are in counties Tyrone and Wexford, worked as a newspaper reporter before making his move to the police department where he initially worked the beat on Brooklyn streets familiar to him from his youth.
Later, Collins was transferred to the Manhattan South Task Force before taking up the position that would make him a familiar sight at large scale public events, that of head of the office of the Deputy Chief for Public Information.
Collins, now 52, has long been an active member in New York’s Irish-American community
He was the Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s grand marshal in 2002 and served as the Chief Brehon that same year at Coney Ireland’s Great Irish Fair. The NYPD’s Emerald Society named Collins its 2003 Man of the Year.