True Crime: Cop’s Book Offers ‘Ethnographic’ Tour of The Job

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A new memoir by a New York City police officer offers a rare look inside a working cop’s job and mindset.

The book is “Blue Blood,” by Edward Conlon, a Harvard graduate who joined the NYPD at age 30. Since 1997, Conlon has contributed periodic “Cop Diary” pieces to the New Yorker magazine under the pseudonym Marcus Laffey.

In a review in the New York Times, Ted Conover called the book a “sprawling, wry, opinionated, beautifully written memoir.” He added, “Never has a cop explained like this.”

Conlon writes, for example, that circumstances of the job lead cops “to develop a decidedly ironic point of view,” which some misread as the infamous blue wall of silence.

”It’s not so much that cops don’t want to talk,” Conlon writes. “It’s that they can barely begin to explain.”

Reviewer Conover says the books amounts to “a rich ethnographic document,” from “gun-in-hand” assignment vignettes to his family’s police history to philosophical musings to Conlon’s views on departmental dysfunction, the war on drugs and race relations.

Conover writes, “He may love writing, but Conlon is no newshound, trolling for a juicy story or aspiring to be objective. Rather, the title is just right: Conlon bleeds policeman blue; ‘the Job’ to him is a Catholic-style calling, a vocation. ‘I liked the feel of a shield on my chest, and it began to make sense that you wore it over your heart.’ And the fact he’s still on the job gives ‘Blue Blood’ a charge and immediacy unlike any other police book I know.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/18/books/review/18CONOVET.html

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