Book Review – Street Warrior

Ralph Friedman was an officer with the NY Police Department in the 1970’s and 1980’s, during the gritty, high-crime era made famous by so many movies and TV shows of that era. Friedman was promoted to detective after five years on the job and his extraordinary career has been commemorated with 219 awards, including the department’s second-highest honor: The Police Combat Cross.

From the book:

In 1971 the NYPD engaged in 314 shootouts. Ninety-three hoodlums were killed and 221 were wounded. We lost 15 police officers and hundreds wounded. In March 1974, a man was exchanging gunfire with two uniformed officers. When Ralph arrived on the scene, he immediately jumped onto the hood and then the roof of a Cadillac. Ralph leaped onto the culprit, and after a furious battle, was able to subdue, disarm and arrest him.

Street Warrior, foreward by Captain Tom Walker.

Street Warrior is a retrospective on Ralph’s police career, told in his own words. He describes himself as “not a gun guy”, but he was involved in multiple shooting incidents in his career. A majority of his use of force situations were hands on, sometimes involving guns and knives in grappling distances. When he started his career, cops on foot patrol didn’t have portable radios, and had to use land line phones to call for backup. He spent a lot of his time working in the district known as Fort Apache.

The full history of Fort Apache is detailed in another true crime book written by retired NYPD Captain Tom Walker.

A few choice quotes from the book:

The NYPD of the 1970’s didn’t frown on force, excessive or otherwise. Bringing a prisoner in dead wasn’t advised, but anything just short of it was usually overlooked and considered good police work. “We use violence to implement justice” were the words to live (and survive) by.

The book is full of great cop stories and lots of history about organized crime, radical groups attacking the police, and all the civil unrest of New York in the 1970’s. Definitely recommended reading for those that weren’t alive in that decade, to give perspective on current urban crime and unrest and riots and other current problems in major cities.

Ralph is still around and has an active profile on Facebook. He and I exchanged some messages and I was able to get an autographed copy of his book for my collection.

Ralph was also host of a TV show, Street Justice: The Bronx. Episodes are available from Amazon Prime and other sources.

USCCA also has an in depth interview with Ralph available online