COMMISSIONER: A View from the Top of American Law Enforcement by Patrick V. & Thomas Plate Murphy

COMMISSIONER: A View from the Top of American Law Enforcement

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Patrick V. Murphy was New York City Police Commissioner from 1970 to 1973--tough clays for law enforcement, a rich opportunity for the reformer. Here, mingling anecdotes and analysis, he recaps his career and talks police reform. Murphy, indeed, was where the action was--in Syracuse after a high-visibility corruption scandal, in Washington, D.C., when Martin Luther King was assassinated, in Detroit following the Algiers motel events--and he fostered police professionalism and better community relations wherever he served. He is far from the traditional police administrator. Some of his thinking is standard progressive (viz., the need for more minority and women officers, better training, command accountability, competent administration). But he goes beyond the ""new breed"" approach in concluding that: the criminal justice system might profitably divert funds from the police, the largest recipient (no empire builder, this); radio car patrol is ineffective in crime prevention; detectives solve few crimes (most are solved by citizen reports); the civil service system causes headaches for police officials; and--most heretical of all--J. Edgar Hoover (a ""demagogic politician"") and the FBI were ""the biggest single obstacle"" to better law enforcement. To an extent the work suffers by trying to be two books at once. Murphy's analysis--which, with more space, could be better documented and far more convincing--competes with his personal tales-out-of-office, and vice versa. But the book has a lot to say. Police buffs will read it, police chiefs should.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster