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James Lardner

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Crusader: The Hell-Raising Police Career of Detective David Durk
James Lardner  More Info

NYPD: A City and Its Police
James Lardner  More Info
Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences
New Press  More Info
Up to Our Eyeballs: The Hidden Truths and Consequences of Debt in Today's America
James Lardner  More Info

About the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC)

In 1790, Maryland and Virginia ceded portions of their territory for the purpose of establishing the Federal City. For the next 10 years, the Federal City was policed by constables appointed by these two states. In 1802, when the original charter of Washington was approved, police authority was centralized and power was granted to the city itself to establish patrols, impose fines, and establish inspection and licensing procedures. Until the creation of the Metropolitan Police Department in 1861, the city had only an auxiliary watch with one captain and 15 policemen.


Today, the Metropolitan Police Department includes more than 4,400 members—approximately 3,800 sworn police officers and more than 600 civilian employees. Today's Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC) is committed to the same proud ideals and traditions of the department in its earlier years. And while serving and protecting the community remains central to the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC) mission, the department is also committed to building safer neighborhoods in partnership with the community.


Today's Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC) remains a remarkably diverse department. Nearly one in four of all sworn officers is woman, placing the MPDC among the national leaders in this regard. And Cathy L. Lanier made history when she was named the first female chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC), beginning in 2007. Approximately 70 percent of the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC) sworn members are black, Hispanic or Asian, meaning that the department closely mirrors the makeup of the resident population it serves. As the Metropolitan Police Department strives to maintain its rich diversity, the department has also raised its hiring standards and taken other steps to enhance the professionalism of the force.




James Lardner is a senior fellow at Demos was a police officer for the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, DC) for two and half years during the early 1970s.  Today, he is a well-regard researcher and writer. As a journalist, he has written for the New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The Nation, among other publications. He is the author of Crusader: The Hell-Raising Police Career of Detective David Durk; and, the co-author of NYPD: A City and Its Police and the editor of Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences.


According to the book description of Crusader: The Hell-Raising Police Career of Detective David Durk, “When David Durk joined the New York City Police Department in 1963, he found an organization with its own set of rules, where bribery and payoffs were routine and no one wanted to be disturbed. Durk set out to fix the whole mess. For 22 years, until he was forced to retire at age 51, he was a thorn in the side of mayors, police commissioners, commanders, sergeants, and beat cops alike. His crusading led to an investigation into police corruption in the 1970s by the Knapp Commission (credit for which usually goes to Frank Serpico) and more recently, the Mollen Commission.”


Publisher’s Weekly said of NYPD: A City and Its Police, “A comprehensive and elegant history of the New York Police Department, this book, written by a journalist (Lardner) and a former cop (Reppetto), charts the department's development, from its origins as a collection of unorganized watchmen in the 1820s to its recent past. In crisp, anecdote-rich prose, Lardner (a New Yorker contributor) and Reppetto (now president of New York's Citizens Crime Commission) take readers on a chronological tour through the years when the department reluctantly adopted firearms and uniforms and when police applicants depended on patronage, through wave after wave of anti-corruption ferment, and through years of controversy. Drawing on sources ranging from the memoir of George Washington Walling, a 19th-century officer who saw action during most of the era's flashpoints (including the 1849 Opera House Riot and the 1863 Draft Riots), to newspaper accounts and legislative committee reports, Lardner and Reppetto assess the potential for good and bad in the city and on its police force. Along the way, they recount colorful stories about early gangs like the Dead Rabbits and Five Pointers; they examine the conflict between the Metropolitan Police and the Municipals, an early rogue offshoot; and they address the department's pendulum-like swings between corruption and reform (which, they note, gets activated every 20 years by a major scandal). They also depict the Giuliani administration's 1990s' "Rediscovery of Crime" and recent controversies.”


According to the book description of, Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences, “Since the 1970s, the U.S. economy has been sending more and more of its rewards to fewer and fewer people. Once seen as a global exemplar of egalitarianism and middle-class opportunity, America has become the most unequal of developed nations—a land where corporate leaders earn hundreds of times the pay of average workers, and the only population group growing faster than millionaires is the uninsured. Statistics aside, this quarter-century-long trend has changed the texture of American life in ways that threaten our deepest values. Drawing on the best and latest research, the contributors explore issues such as the real story the numbers tell about how America has changed; dimensions of inequality (education, health, and opportunity); causes of inequality—looking past the usual suspects of technology, trade, and immigration; the persistence of racial disparities; the erosion of democracy and community; and inequality as a moral and religious problem. Not just a catalog of inequality's ills, the book concludes with a plausible and hopeful policy path—beyond redistribution—to a more just and humane economy”

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