In 1965, Joe Sanchez was drafted into
the United States Army, at the age of 18. On his twentieth birthday, he found himself with the First Air
Cavalry Air Mobile Division deployed near the village of Phantiet in South Vietnam. On that day, his unit
was engaged in a firefight with Viet Cong. Joe Sanchez and three of his comrades were wounded by a grenade
during that firefight.
After discharge, Joe Sanchez served three years as a
police officer with the New York Port Authority Police Department. He then applied for, and was accepted,
as a police officer for the New York City Police Department. Joe Sanchez battled crime on the streets of
New York, not realizing the most vicious enemy was within the NYPD.
In October of 1983, Joe Sanchez was
indicted by a Special and Extraordinary Grand Jury in Manhattan for one count of Burglary in the First Degree; one count of
Grand Larceny in the first Degree; one count of Grand Larceny in the second Degree; six counts of Grand larceny in the Third
Degree; and, one count of assault in the Third Degree. Joe Sanchez would ultimately be exonerated of the
charges because the true betrayal wasn’t Joe’s, it was his enemies within the NYPD that had set him up.
For a time, Joe Sanchez became a letter
carrier and then reentered the criminal justice field as a correctional officer serving in both Sing Sing and Coxsackie State
Prisons. If you ask Joe Sanchez, he will tell you, “It's a true story. I've been trying to tell it for a long
time. It's my story, but not mine alone. It is also the story of those who lived and died alongside me, in Viet Nam and
in that other battle, for justice and safety under the shield of the law; that is fought daily in the streets of every big
city by every honest cop. In this case, the city is the Naked City, and the cop [namely, me] is a Latino. And the battle is
neither for the civilians alone, nor just against the bad guys in the street. Some times the bad guys are in the Department.
And sometimes the people who need protection are the honest cops.”
Joe Sanchez is the author of
Latin Blues: A Tale of Police Omerta from the NYPD and A Tale of the Enemy Within.
According to the book description of
True Blue: A Tale of the Enemy Within, “Joe has been trying to tell this story for some time.
It’s his story, but not his alone. It’s also the story of those who lived and died alongside him, in Viet
Nam and in that other battle, for justice and safety under the shield of the law, that is fought daily in the streets of every
big city by every honest cop. In his case, the city was the Naked City and the cop was a Latino. And the
battle was neither for the civilians alone, nor just against the bad guys in the street. Sometimes the
bad guys were in the Department. And sometimes the people who needed protection were the honest cops.”