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Reviewed by cutting board C. Mackey (University of Louisville)Published on H-Law (November, 1997)


Meat-eaters and also Grass-eaters

All professions develop their very own jargon and also the police job is no exception. No police pressure in the united States has possessed a greater profile and undergone much more praise and condemnation 보다 the nation"s oldest police force, the brand-new York City Police Department. In the argot of the new York Police Department, and recounted through the 1972 Knapp Report, corrupt police practices deserve to be split into two types: meat-eaters and also grass-eaters. As defined by the Knapp Report, those police police officers who "aggressively misuse their police powers for an individual gain" are meat-eaters, when "grass-eaters merely accept the payoffs that the happenstances of police job-related throw your way" (p. 4). Because that example, plainclothesmen who consistently shake down gamblers and also drug dealers and also demand security money to look the other means in exchange for no arresting such persons room meat-eaters, if the precinct patrolman who accepted a complimentary coffee and also danish in the Greek diner top top the corner is a grass-eater.

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I, myself, corrupted a Louisville, Kentucky, policeman just the various other day. One morning a pair of mainly ago, ns sat in ~ the counter of my regional Denny"s enjoying my coffee and also fuming at the neighborhood liberal newspaper. A policeman gone into the restaurant and sat under a pair of seats away from me and also ordered his breakfast. Just as his food arrived, a pair rushed into the Denny"s transporting a little child and also literally screaming that their son had stopped breathing. The officer stood up, provided his radio to contact for EMS, and also took charge of the situation. He pried a wad of gum the end of the child"s throat and administered a tiny C.P.R. Come the young to re-start his breathing. When the medical technicians arrived, castle took over the boy"s care and also transported the now restored child (and over-wrought parents) come the hospital; the officer returned to his seat in ~ the counter. Denny"s warmed the officer"s breakfast because that him and also I corrupted him--I choose up his tab and also bought his breakfast because that him.

I was glad to help the officer and also buying his breakfast fulfilled one my goals in life--to buy turn off a police officer. Okay, so i did not specifically "buy off" the officer, however he and also I both knew that letting civilians purchase a policeman a enjoy the meal is versus department policy and we both ignored the rule. That sort of grass-eating is indelibly part and thoreau of police work, just as an ext aggressive, and also less common, meat-eating appears as a consistent theme in police history. The reprint collection nicely demonstrates the consistent of corruption within the new York City Police room (and yes, really all police departments) and the continuous of investigation and "reform" of the Department. Meat-eating and also grass-eating will certainly not cease; how to prepare to better manage these constants the police job-related is the on-going layout running throughout this six important reprinted police reports--The Lexow Committee Report (Volume I), the Curran Committee Report (Volume II), the Seabury examination Report (Volume III), the Helfand examination Report (Volume IV), the Knapp the supervisory board Report (Volume V), and the Mollen board of directors Report (Volume VI).

Spanning one century of police investigations, these previously hard-to-find reports have actually been gathered together and also ought to discover a residence in many every research library and also law library. Assistant Professor of regulation at Western new England college of regulation Gabriel J. Chin offers an advent to the entire collection at the start of the first volume, the Lexow Report, and also he offers an historical introduction and preface prior to each report in this series. Professionals in criminal justice and police background will uncover Chin"s introductions adequate to the topic however hardly thorough in your coverage the the primary and historigraphical literature (the important work the Wilbur miller is glaringly absent, because that example). But Chin"s objective is not to recast the shape of the interpretations that police corruption; his only purpose is to provide scholars and also students with primary sources previously difficult to locate and consult. By gathering together these reports, Chin has provided crucial and helpful service.

Reading these differed reports, historians will it is in struck through the change and continuity visible through time. These six reports, extending a century of police evolution and each mirroring its own details context, reveal some similarities. Usually, some specifically troubling event occurs or an outraged reformer (or newspaper) reveals a meat-eating or grass-eating policeman or police practice. Politicians then respond through appointing an investigative committee. Sponsor by the city and by personal persons and also groups, this anti-corruption committees rental investigators organize public hearings, get headline-grabbing testimony, and, in time, problem a report. Only one of these commissions, the Helfand the supervisory board of 1954, own the power to prosecute those accused the violating state law. In solution to this investigative reports, the new York City Police department adopts brand-new rules and regulations, institutes new training and also sensitivity courses, tinkers through its recruiting standards, and re-organizes the department"s inner oversight and controls over its officers. Then a "reformed" police room drops indigenous the headlines, patrolmen and also plainclothesmen adjust to the new rules and also guidelines, and also the grass-eaters and also the occasional meat-eater return to grazing. This pattern emerges in each and also every one of these reports and it argues that this sample will continue into the future.

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Yet one vital new issue shows up in the last report that this series, the Mollen Report that 1994: the effect of illegal drugs and the drug trade on the meat-eaters. As previous reports made clear, instead of acquisition money come look the other way from criminal activities, by 1994 teams of policemen had actually become energetic participants in the medicine trade, buying and selling medicine while top top duty. They offered their police knowledge to raid rival medicine dealers, stole medicine dealers" money and drugs, resold the drugs, and physically abused the dealers. Due to the fact that of the huge amount of money available through such activities, a couple of police officers had literally end up being just one more dangerous drug gang in town. Not that everyone needed additional reenforcement around the threats of drugs, but this development demonstrates just how corrupting illicit drugs and also the drug trade have the right to be come police and also on the basic urban environment. Even if it is this latest evil for the police and the city will certainly be (or can be) regulated is quiet unclear, yet drugs truly challenge the city and also its police pressure to maintain a police department with a minimal variety of meat-eaters and also a tolerable number of grass-eaters. Regardless, these reports are vital reading for urban, institutional, and also criminal justice historians, and Daniel J. Chin has actually performed a worthwhile organization in reprinting this engaging and also important police corruption investigations.