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No Lights, No Sirens:
The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop


By Rob Cea

HarperTorch, August, 2006 ($7.99) True Crime
ISBN: 006058713X

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

The author, Rob Cea, was a highly decorated police officer. He retired in his early thirties. What he learned at the Police Academy did not prepare him for working the streets of New York City. No Lights, No Sirens recalls the depths to which this officer "sank" in his pursuit of justice.

I'm not surprised this book is "soon to be a major motion picture." Audiences should be enthralled.

From the relative safety of the Police Academy to the mean, dark, ugly streets of New York City there is an awful lot of room for the textbook learning to be tossed aside in order to survive the daily rigors of police work in the real world. Having lived in several large cities, including San Francisco, Oakland (Calfornia), Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Tacoma (Washington) I have seen, first hand, the challenges faced everyday by the local police. I also come from a police family. Brothers, father, stepfather, uncles, cousins. Cops. Lots of them. From the city level on through to the FBI level. And the stories they told! Not unlike the experiences of author Rob Cea to some degree.

I'm not sure "enjoy" is the right word. I think readers will appreciate the author's candid portrayal of his experiences both lawful and unlawful and find the book a fast read. Those who read true crime books will likely already have a special understanding of what police work entails. Those who are biased against police or have a prejudice for doing everything by the book may find the author's tale frustrating. Many of us would like to believe that justice and corruption do not go hand in hand at any time, and that the bad guys are always bad and the good guys are always good.

Cynic that I am, I doubt that justice was ever pure. I do, however, appreciate books like this that come along every once in a while, that sort of "rub our noses in it," as the saying goes, because those of us on the civilian sidelines tend to think, or like to pretend, that we are different from those "bad" cops. We think that we would make different choices than this police officer did. Well, we can sit on the sidelines and think what we like, but this book clearly tells the tale of what happened to one cop in the real world. I don't for a minute think he's the only cop who has ever cut corners or prodded justice in his own way. I'm not saying it's right or even okay sometimes, I'm just saying that on the civilian side of things, can we afford to pretend justice is as pure as we like to make out that it is?

One last thing. I did not particularly like the author's writing style. I think some readers will find it annoying. However, I think the story itself is worth reading despite the writing.

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