Christopher McCormack is one of the New York Police Department’s highest-ranking officers. As an assistant chief, he helps oversee drug enforcement and organized crime investigations throughout the city. He was hand-picked for the promotion two years ago by his old friend James O’Neill, who was police commissioner.

But his ascension started three decades earlier, when he was a rookie cop patrolling drug-infested Washington Heights. “He was always the first guy out of the car,” said Joseph Esposito, his precinct commander at the time. “Always the tip of the spear.” He would earn the nickname “Red Rage” for his ginger hair, fiery temperament and aggressive approach to policing.

Street cop. Sergeant. Lieutenant. By 2006, McCormack was running his own narcotics squad. Captain. Deputy Inspector. By 2011, he had his own precinct, more than 200 officers in his command. His rise continued, said a former colleague, like “greased lightning.”

Read more at ProPublica.