A retired New York Police Department detective relates the saga of his adolescence in New York City, his chance decision to join the force, his storied career (1970-1984), and the serious injury that forced his retirement.
Written with former NYPD officer and Army machine-gunner Picciarelli (co-author: Undercover Cop: How I Brought Down the Real-Life Sopranos, 2013, etc.), this anecdote-driven, loosely organized memoir celebrates what most cops might consider “the good old days” but what some civilians might consider a celebration of excessive force. Friedman used his fists, guns, and other available weapons to arrest, wound, and sometimes kill suspects, winning a host of medals for valor in the process. Although the memoir contains sporadic reflections on whether Friedman needed to use deadly force as often as he did, the book largely consists of unreflective war stories about New York’s perpetual criminal element, especially in neighborhoods dominated by nonwhite populations. The author does not worry about political correctness, stereotyping, or reliance on stylistic clichés. His empathy for fellow police officers wounded or killed on the job is boundless—not so for most others in the narrative. Much of Friedman’s commentary involves his desired assignment in the city’s 41st Precinct, a small area of the South Bronx sometimes referred to as “Fort Apache.” Readers can only wonder how Friedman would have fared in today’s climate of police officers wearing body cameras and vehicle dashboard cameras to document on-the-job conduct and citizens using phone cameras to record law enforcement personnel. When not on the street making arrests, Friedman chafed at completing paperwork and milling around courthouses waiting to testify. His restlessness for action never abated, to the point where he placed himself in personal peril multiple times.
A swashbuckling book that is likely to elicit extreme reactions of applause or disapproval depending on the reader’s personal opinions about law enforcement.