They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption

Michael Armstrong. Columbia Univ, $29.50 (272p) ISBN 978-0-231-15354-6
Being the chief counsel to New York City’s Knapp Commission, Armstrong was on the scene from the beginning of the citizens commission on police graft in the 1970s and knows the perils and pressures faced by the panel before its eventual success. Armstrong, currently chair of the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption, plots the Knapp Commission’s genesis from a 1970 New York Times article with bombshell revelations from rebel cop Frank Serpico, then details Mayor John Lindsay’s lukewarm support of the commission and full-out resistance from police hierarchy until the public breakthroughs. The panel, headed by noted lawyer Whitman Knapp, survived crisis after crisis, tallying payoffs, illegal gambling, loan sharking, and drug sales, with a series of heroes and robbers. Armstrong provides some color and flash with chapters on truth-seeking TV newsman Gabe Pressman, Serpico, a pair of flamboyant patrolmen known as “Batman and Robin,” honored cop and thief extraordinaire William Phillips, and Xaviera “The Happy Hooker” Hollander, who counted powerful politicians and cop bag-men as clients. Anyone interested in urban law enforcement and big city politics will find this book an important, surprising exposé of the corruption and reform of police power. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-231-52698-2
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