Posts tagged “Joseph Wambaugh

Retired MPD Captain Reviews Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel

As promised, the Spingola Files (SF) is proud to present retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis’ review of The Cozen Protocol, a 2010 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee.  

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THE COZEN PROTOCOL

Author:    Mitchell Nevin

Setting:    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Genre:      Crime & Corruption

The Cozen Protocol is a fictional book that tells how corruption and poor leadership within a police organization touches the lives of a number of people who are, or have been, associated with that organization.  Mitchell Nevin uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as his backdrop and blends elements of real incidents with fiction.  The characters range from the Department’s police chief to members of the police department’s Professional Performance Division (previously known as the Internal Affairs Division) to biker and Spanish gang members.  Each chapter is another piece of a very interesting puzzle that, when complete, will neatly tie up any loose ends for the reader.

 Without going into too much detail, the danger of undercover work (think Donnie Brasco, the movie about FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone as portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became “like them” to his wife and even to himself); the emphasis on getting guns off the street to reduce violent crime and the methods employed, which have officers walking a very fine line; and an overzealous attempt on the part of some members of the department to insure “integrity,” are brought to light in this book and the results are damaging to overall morale as one might expect.  This will all be familiar to those who lived through these experiences and, in some cases, had their careers altered permanently.  I’m talking about very good officers who were acting with the best of intentions in an almost “Mission Impossible” environment.    

 Those who were members of the Milwaukee Police Department over the past 25 to 35 years will especially enjoy the challenge of trying to link the traits of the characters in the book to people they encountered throughout their own careers and will also remember many of the real life incidents that are blended into the story.  Mitchell Nevin did an absolutely fantastic job of research in his preparation for writing this book, as he captures the frustrations of the rank-and-file members of the Department, who are working under internal conditions that not only present many obstacles but are dangerous to their professional and personal lives.

 Another part of the story line that the reader will find fascinating is the interaction between several of the law enforcement officer characters and a member of the media and defense attorney.  Some may find themselves saying that part of the book is definitely fiction, but others may have their own experiences, which affirm the validity of that part of the story.  Either way, it is one more piece of the puzzle that makes this book hard to put down.

The Cozen Protocol  also clearly identifies how inept leadership can influence the day-to-day environment of the working copper and detective; how important trust is in a law enforcement organization; and how difficult the job can be without trust.  Personal ambition and big egos are usually recipes for disaster, as Mitchell Nevin illustrates.

One main character stood out for me as I was reading the book.  Detective Gavin Fitzgerald was a street smart, steady, level headed investigator who had a combination of real street experience, wisdom and a dedication to duty.  He was well respected by his peers and his immediate supervisor and knew how to work around the obstacles presented by management.   Gavin Fitzgerald struck me as a law enforcement officer who wasn’t consumed with himself or where he could get on the job.  He also struck me as one who didn’t make excuses and who saw the job as a calling.  The last page of the last chapter of the book sealed that for me.

 There are lessons to be learned even from a fictional book such as this.  Police chiefs need to understand that quality of supervision matters.  Supervisors need to understand that with authority comes responsibility – and that includes making decisions.  Good coppers and detectives need to understand their obligations to take promotional exams with an eye toward becoming the kind of supervisors and leaders they themselves want to see in the organization.   Day-to-day operations need to be critiqued with an eye toward improvement.  For example, when a special unit is deployed to fight street gang activity it needs to work collectively as a team of uniformed and plainclothes officers – not individually – and the teams must be led by capable supervisors who have a demonstrated work history and who work with them.   The teams are best deployed on a district-by-district basis rather than from some central “downtown” location.  This allows for greater control; much better cooperation and intelligence from the good people of the neighborhoods, which builds “trust and confidence” and leads to a more surgical operation and less collateral damage; and better accountability and response to problems.  To be sure, a “central” intelligence gathering unit is necessary to coordinate certain investigations and link criminal operations that transcend district boundaries, however the street level operations are much more effective and efficient if performed by selected uniformed officers and detectives who work as a team and patrol as “a pack” out of the district stations.   

The wise officer/detective/supervisor and even a police chief will take something from this book and apply it to his/her operational/administrative style and hopefully make the work environment a little bit better for those people who are out there fighting crime.

 As for The Cozen Protocol, I highly recommend this book and am sure the reader will enjoy it as much as I did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes it into a television movie on the order of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choir Boys or The New Centurions.

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Glenn D. Frankovis served with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) from 1975 to 2004.  During his career, he served on the MPD’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and later commanded Districts Five and Three on Milwaukee’s north side.

Editor’s note: Since SF has received serveral inquries, The Cozen Protocol is an e-book available exclusively at Amazon.com.  Readers can download the novel to a PC, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  The software to download Kindle books to a PC is free.  To obtain the software, visit the “Free e-books to PC software” link on the right side of this Web page.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011