When Supt. Constantine retired from the New York State Police in early 1994 to accept an appointment as administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed James W. McMahon to become the 11th superintendent in the history of the State Police on April 4, 1994. The Senate confirmed his appointment three days later.
Supt. McMahon joined the NYSP in 1966 after his parents mailed application papers to him in Ethiopia, where he was serving with the U.S. Army. He rose through the ranks during a long and distinguished career. His first patrol assignment was to Troop E in Wayne County. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in the Uniform Force in 1971 and transferred to the Peekskill substation in Troop K. In 1973 he returned to Troop E as a sergeant/station commander. His promotion to zone sergeant in 1976 resulted in an assignment to SP Henrietta, where he worked until he was promoted to lieutenant in April 1977 and transferred to SP Liberty in Troop F.
In 1978 he was assigned as zone commander at SP Monroe in Troop F. During this time he supervised a number of high-profile events, including several presidential visits and the return of the Iranian hostages at Stewart Field in Newburgh. He also was assigned to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, where he served as assistant venue commander at the Olympic Village, which housed more than 2,000 athletes. His promotion to uniform captain in 1981 brought him to Troop F headquarters in Middletown, where he also served as the troop's affirmative action officer and disaster preparedness management officer.
He was promoted to major in 1986 and assigned as commander of Troop T. In 1987 he was promoted to staff inspector and assigned to the Professional Standards Unit at Division Headquarters in Albany, where he supervised, reviewed and conducted internal affairs investigations. A year later he was assigned as staff inspector to the Employee Relations Section. Following an assignment as assistant deputy superintendent for planning and research, in 1991 he was promoted to deputy superintendent/field commander, the third-highest ranking officer in the state police, with responsibility for all field operations of the Uniform Force and Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
On Dec. 28, 1994, Gov. George E. Pataki reappointed Supt. McMahon to lead the Division of State Police; the Senate reconfirmed him on June 13, 1995.
Since his initial appointment, Supt. McMahon has worked tirelessly to maintain the Division of State Police's reputation as one of the nation's most dynamic and progressive full-service law enforcement agencies. Under his stewardship, the state police has:
- Opened its state-of-the-art Forensic Investigation Center in Albany.
- Established the state's DNA Data Bank for violent felons sentenced to prison in New York State.
- Implemented a statewide program to combat school violence.
- Developed and maintained a variety of innovative programs that have helped drive New York's highway fatality to historic lows.
- Implemented a highly successful program to equip all state police employees with personal computers and the latest in time and work-saving high-technology programs and services.
- Established a new Office of Human Resources to provide improved services to both the public and state police employees.
- Led major state police details in conjunction with a variety large-scale events, ranging from the TWA Flight 800 (1996) and World Trade Center (2001) disasters to the 1994 and 1999 Woodstock concerts.
A native of Rochester, NY, Supt. McMahon and his wife, Joan, reside in the Capital District. They have three children.