Good Cops, Bad Cops: Working the Binaries in the NYPD (Book Review)
Author(s)Van Maanen, John
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Book review: Jennifer C. Hunt, Seven Shots: An NYPD Raid on a Terrorist Cell and its Aftermath. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. 361pp. $29.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780226360904 This is one hell of a book. Sweeping, energetic, lucid, rich in story and detail but sociologically informed and informing. Jennifer Hunt, a professor at Montclair State College, put years of deep and dogged fieldwork to work in crafting a superb and highly inventive organizational ethnography of the New York Police Department. Ostensibly, the story is a tightly focused one, concentrating on a pre-dawn raid on an apartment in Brooklyn in July 1997 by an ESU team (Emergency Service Unit). In the flat are two Palestinian suicide bombers in possession of highly potent explosives they plan to set off in a few hours in the NY subway. A courageous roommate of the two alerts the police who move into action with considerable skill, some dissension, and blessed good luck to prevent a major disaster. The informant, a recent Pakistani immigrant who spoke little English, is severely tested by the police trying to judge the credibility of his story and counter the risks faced by both the police and the local residents. The raid itself is recreated and described in excruciating emotional and hair-raising fashion. Two officers fire their weapons – the seven shots – on entering the bedroom, critically wounding both suspects just as one moves to detonate the explosives hidden in two black bags on the floor. Minutes later, as the wounded are being carted away, two detectives X-ray the bags and, after a robot failure, disarm the live bomb by hand. An officer on the scene later says, “if the bomb had gone off, it would have been a bag-and-broom job.” Parsed as a single story, the book is about how in less than seven hours, one persistent Muslim informant, six dedicated NYPD cops and two cool and capable bomb squad detectives along with supporting units, back-up teams, various technologies and wise (and not so wise) commanders narrowly aborted this country’s first suicide bombing.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Contemporary Sociology A Journal of Reviews
Van Maanen, John, Reviewer. "Good Cops, Bad Cops: Working the Binaries in the NYPD".
Author's final manuscript