Tony Bouza, who was borough commander in the Bronx (New York City) for 3 years, describes his experiences in this position and provides observations on the limitations of urban policing.
Much of the book focuses on the tensions between individual police discretion and administrative direction, as a well-crafted executive directive or policy may be frustrated by the rank-and-file officer. On the other hand, conservative, unimaginative police executives far removed from the realities of the front line can hold expectations and devise policies that fail to address the complexities of the problems with which the rank-and-file must deal. Bouza portrays a police bureaucracy more responsive to political pressures than to the needs of the urban citizens it has been created to serve. Bouza views the Bronx and its crime problems as a symptom of one of America's major problems -- the persistence and expansion of a poverty-stricken urban underclass that survives through crime. His frustration as borough commander was that his effectiveness was measured by superiors according to the criteria of reduced crime and the appearance of order. Success in this endeavor would confirm that the problems of the Bronx could be resolved by the police rather than broad-based socioeconomic and educational policies designed to reduce the underclass. Failure to achieve these goals was blamed on the borough commander rather than on Federal, State, and city policies that perpetuate the plight of the underclass. Subject index.
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