Former NYPD deputy commissioner Maple reveals in a tough, funny memoir the radical anti-crime strategies he deployed in achieving unprecedented reductions in violent crimes throughout New York City, returning the murder rate to pre-1964 levels. The currently rotund, foppish Maple learned his trade in the oft-disparaged Transit Police during the legendary high-crime 1970s and 1980s, when, perversely, he was upbraided by superiors for his guile and aggression in making street-level collars of the "mopes—'scam artists, robbers, pimps—who infested midtown at that time. Now he writes the way he once chased down skells: with a hard-charging mix of incongruous high-life carousing (waiting at Elaine's for high-priority crime calls), "zany" recollections of the street, and bursts of innovative law-enforcement theory that, if fractious, grow upon the reader. Maple pioneered the first subway "decoy squad" (cops posing as easy victims); his star later rose under the rigorous and publicity-minded Commissioner William Bratton, for whom Maple quietly enacted measures that literally changed the moribund structure of the NYPD and its investigative procedures (e.g., he demanded hard pursuit of thousands of "failed-to-appear" warrants and in-depth debriefing of all arrests for additional crime knowledge), and resulted in a huge increase in street-level crime prevention, as anyone since busted for "quality-of-life violations" now knows. Although Maple is his own best advocate, claiming his methods en grande could reduce crime nationally to pre-1961 levels, he fortunately appears in his own tale not as swell- headed, but as a slightly absurdist cop figure who outthought his own macho, constricted occupational culture. This quality, as well as Maple's original perceptions regarding criminal predators, whom he portrays in simultaneously funny and unsettling fashion, elevates The Crime Fighter far above the blustery standard of law-enforcement memoirs. As Maple the consultant does not, presumably, work on the cheap, one could seriously recommend his book to law- enforcement professionals who are willing to think creatively and work overtime in facing their own criminal morasses.
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