The memoir of an Irish-American's service with the New York Police Department, told with equal parts Gaelic charm and cop cynicism.
Dublin-bred Waters, who returned to Ireland following his 2011 retirement, details his swift rise through the ranks, from patrolling a boring Manhattan precinct to working major drug and gang investigations in the high-crime South Bronx, even as his comrades were bemused by New York’s legendary drop in violent crime. As he writes in comparing his brother officers to the wily professional criminals they pursue, “it’s about the game, the chase…[and] the cash hidden in some bus station locker or locked away in a pension plan at the end of your career.” Waters is surprisingly frank about the seamier side of big-city policing, starting with his own years as an illegal immigrant, about which he deceived the department. He portrays drug enforcement as a high-stakes scheme for accruing officer overtime and federal dollars, and he admits that Irish ancestry still aids one’s rise within the department. He avers that “although I made plenty of mistakes, I never took a dime I wasn’t entitled to, never set a perp up for a crime he did not commit,” and he expresses scorn for the few truly crooked cops he encountered. Waters details intriguing street scenes from his time in an anti-pickpocketing unit, followed by postings in Narcotics and Homicide, but the most powerful section concerns his experiences at ground zero following 9/11 (even detectives were assigned to sift remains). The author has the droll voice of a raconteur, but the casually organized narrative can seem unfocused. He discusses some major investigations, but Waters focuses more on his own career trajectory, up until its abrupt conclusion after more than 20 years: “There are a lot of fantasies when you join the NYPD, but few fanfares when you exit the stage.”
Amusing recollections of “The Job” with some insider details, but it’s unlikely to stand out among a recent flood of law enforcement memoirs.