POLICE UNBOUND: Corruption, Abuse, and Heroism by the Boys in Blue
Retired Minneapolis police chief Bouza (The Police Mystique) turns a gimlet eye upon such controversial topics as the role of race and class in street policing. His nonconformist bent receives a full airing here: he describes the Drug War's effectiveness as "nil" and asserts that elaborate social structures (ranging from localized racism to powerful police unions) prohibit realistic discussion of the devolved role of law enforcement officers as protectors for a largely white, moneyed overclass. Bouza joined the NYPD in 1953 and rose through the ranks; he depicts tumultuous experiences in the 1960s and '70s, when he clashed with the rank and file over such innovations as Internal Affairs Bureau "associates" (i.e., spies) and the Firearms Discharge Review Board, as well as his increasing intolerance for systematized brutality. Bouza takes a vinegary tone regarding flaws in contemporary law enforcement: "The police exercise awesome power, mostly out of public view. The temptations to abuse are everywhere, and practically irresistible." Yet he emphasizes that the majority of cops perform daily acts of heroism that go unrecognized. Though occasionally bombastic, Bouza is at his best as a salty commentator on post–Warren Court policing, offering sobering, articulate assessments of the complicated forces behind such tragedies as NYC's Diallo and Dorismond shootings and many thought-provoking suggestions (e.g., tougher gun control laws; focus on recidivists, who, he points out, do not represent the majority of criminals in prison). Ultimately, he delivers a two-fisted, well-executed treatise, with humor, surprising insights and questions of social justice that may unnerve many readers, particularly law enforcement insiders. (Apr.)Forecast:Bouza's critique is deep, broad and controversial, and deserves a wider hearing than it will probably get outside of Minnesota, where he still resides and where he will do local publicity.
Release date: 04/01/2001