How Well Do You Know English Slang?
"police officer, detective," 1920, apparently first in "The Shamus," a detective story published that year by Harry J. Loose (1880-1943), a Chicago police detective and crime writer; the book was marketed as "a true tale of thiefdom and an expose of the real system in crime." The word is said to be probably from Yiddish shames, literally "sexton of a synagogue" ("a potent personage only next in influence to the President" [Israel Zangwill]), from Hebrew shamash "servant;" influenced by Celtic Seamus "James," as a typical name for an Irish cop.
[fr Yiddish, ''sexton of a synagogue,'' fr Hebrew shamash, ''servant''; perhaps influenced by the Celtic name Seamus, ''James,'' as a typical name of an Irish police officer]