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No Lights, No Sirens: The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop

No Lights, No Sirens: The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop

4.2 18
by Robert Cea

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A New York Police Officer's relentless journey into the criminal netherworld, told with brutal truth and honesty. Perhaps Neitzsche described Rob Cea's life best, way before he was born: "Take care when chasing the animals; for you can very well become the animal you are chasing." No Lights, No Sirens is a sojourn so dirty and nasty it


A New York Police Officer's relentless journey into the criminal netherworld, told with brutal truth and honesty. Perhaps Neitzsche described Rob Cea's life best, way before he was born: "Take care when chasing the animals; for you can very well become the animal you are chasing." No Lights, No Sirens is a sojourn so dirty and nasty it defies belief. Rob Cea starts off as an idealistic young cop, a true believer in the system for which he works tirelessly. He is sadly mistaken. The system he tried so hard to appease ultimately led to his downfall and the ruination of his life. What separates this from other cop—and—robber stories is the brutal authenticity from the cop himself. We will see and hear exactly what is discussed in a patrol car. We will see how the law was—and is—routinely bent to make collars stick any way possible. And we will see how Cea slowly spirals to depths of hell. No Lights, No Sirens is simplistic in its scope: A young idealistic boy becomes a man through fire, and then becomes exactly what he has been chasing for so long, a hardened man possessed by demons. With rapid fire and gritty narrative, Cea writes about his fall to the depths, and his salvation. We see the dark side of detective work in New York's most crime—riddled neighborhoods from a first-hand view never before seen.

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No Lights, No Sirens

The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop
By Robert Cea

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Robert Cea
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060587121

Chapter One

The Beginning

It was the early eighties. New York City was just starting to recover from the bankrupt years of the seventies, though the crime rate was at an all-time high and continuing to rocket out of proportion. Mayor Ed "How am I doing?" Koch was too busy selfpromoting or writing books to realize just how bad the city really was. Of course, New York has always been a dangerous and volatile place, but things were out of control: 1,826 murders, 3,747 rapes, and 100,667 robberies in 1981. The murder rate would climb to 2,445 by 1989. To top it off, an average of five police officers a year were murdered. Yes, New York City was a war zone, and crack had not even reared its ugly head, at least not yet. When it did, things would get much, much worse before they got better. I was heading right for it. My number had been called by the department; I was entering the New York City Police Academy and I couldn't wait.

My older brother, Jeff, had already been on the job for over a year. He was exactly where he wanted to be: The juice, the action, it was what made it all so real for him. It's what he had wanted to do his whole life, be a cop, and it's what I had wanted to do since I could remember. Jeff has a great physical presence -- he's a natural leader -- and with his uniform on and the medals that were starting to accumulate over his shield, he seemed larger than life. I would follow him anywhere. I wanted to feel that juice. I wanted to know that what I was about to do had some powerful meaning behind it. The long and short of it: I just wanted to help people.

Jeff worked on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and at that time it was a virtual drugstore. The operation pressure points and TNT drug initiatives that solely targeted narcotics trafficking and street-level sales hadn't yet been established, so the dealers and the junkies ran the show. Jeff would call me up on a Friday when he was doing a four-to-twelve tour and I would hang out with him on his foot post. I was a second-year student in college, and having been raised in a working-class section of Brooklyn, this gray, dark world was very unfamiliar to me. I was mesmerized by the tight, narrow streets where tenement buildings were piled one on top of the other, so close together that, looking up from the ground, they all seemed to meld into scarred brick monoliths. The burned-out storefronts, the garbage trailing from the doorways to the streets. The rat-infested alleys, the dark and dangerous courtyards where murder was a simple afterthought, the abandoned buildings where the walking dead fucked, sucked, and skin-popped to live. These images triggered something deep inside me. I was hooked, and there was no turning back.

Each borough has its main thoroughfare: Fordham Road, the Bronx; Broadway, Manhattan; Queens Boulevard, Queens; Hyland Boulevard, Staten Island. And Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. Flatbush is the main artery carrying lifeblood through the center of the borough, running the entire length, south to north, for approximately eleven miles. It is said to be the longest avenue in the world. The south end connects Brooklyn to Rockaway, Queens, via the Marine Park Bridge; the north end connects Brooklyn with Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. Every couple of miles, the neighborhoods flow from good to bad, a microcosm of the borough. The neighborhoods at the south end of Flatbush, where I was raised, run from Flatlands to Marine Park. Clean mom-and-pop stores, wide streets with spotless one-family houses dot the area. As you travel north, Flatbush Avenue narrows and snakes through the middle of Brooklyn, from East Flatbush through Crown Heights. Overcrowded and unkempt four-story apartment buildings, liquor stores, and "pot spots" are on every corner. Farther north, the dangerous urban landscape gives way to 526 acres of rolling meadows and luxuriant greenery: Prospect Park. Flatbush Avenue cuts through the eastern end of the park, and it is here that the affluent neighborhood of Park Slope begins. The tree-lined streets consist of four-story brownstones, turn-of-the-century mansions, and art deco apartment buildings.

Some people have been born and died on this avenue. If there really are eight million stories in New York, this avenue owns half of them.

The drive down Flatbush Avenue this morning seemed different to me. Yes, it was the same place I'd walked and driven down for the past twenty years. Same people, same pristine storefronts -- Ebinger's Bakery, Joe's candy store, Gus's delicatessen, Louie's meat market, the family-run businesses that made the borough famous, stores I'd shopped at since I was a child. Yet now, even though I hadn't had one day of training, I started to look at it all from a different perspective. I created scenarios in my head. If a man was robbing Joe's, how would I stop him before anyone got hurt? A woman is screaming in an alley, two ways in, which is the safest and quickest route? The thought that I would be out there in those streets in six short months, making it a better place to live, filled me with incredible purpose. I was now looking at men and women twice my age as if I were their keeper. I wanted to chase away the monsters that had stalked these streets for so many years. I thought of the three thousand other recruits who were coming on to the job with me this day. Were they thinking and feeling the same thoughts I was?


Excerpted from No Lights, No Sirens by Robert Cea Copyright © 2005 by Robert Cea. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robert Cea retired in his early thirties as a highly decorated police officer. He now splits his time between the East and West Coasts, developing projects in film and television. He lives in New York City.

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No Lights, No Sirens: The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an active NYC detective working in of all places the 6-7, the East Flatbush Badlands where a lot of this book took place. The Highest award a cop can receive is an Honorable Mention - it is usually awarded with the Combat Cross or the Medal of Valor, it is an extremely elusive yet coveted award to recieve. I would give this book an Honorable Mention because it deserves it - heres why. Cea goes out of his way to never make himself or play the can- kicking victim throughout the book which is filled with insights that only active serious minded cops feel and deal with every minute of their tours. He describes the badlands with such vivid detail that it amazes me that he is still not working on the job. The description is to the 'T' and the Dantean characters that are still so much a part of the landscape could not be any closer to reality. All the perps he describes are still out there and I believe more so than ever, as dope is making a huge comeback in the city especially here in the badlands. The book No Lights No Sirens never once apologizes for itself, and that is why Cea should get a Honorable Mention because he delves into truths so deep and so true. I.E. he explains the truths about the cultivation of CI's in the street, and he explains it without sugar, the way it really is. He touches on the small horrors that we as cops see each day, and the small victory's that we sometimes accomplish each day - neither of the examples do the public ever become privy to. It's what makes being a NYC cop the best job in the world. This book should be read by anyone who has ever fantasized about what the job is like, or for that matter any recruit just coming on. Cea lays out the landscape in direct easy prose and dialouge that while reading you will actually feel that you are Cea himself, he makes the reader feel that you are in the terrain watching it through his eyes and thinking exactly what he has written. The regret that I have is never having met Cea and definitely never having rode just one tour with him. We share the same sentiments as so many cops do but are not allowed to say publically. Cea has stepped up and waved the flag of reason for all of us. I applaud you Robert Cea, and I applaud your talent as a master story teller, and as a tortured cop who obviously had the last laugh on the job which treated you and continually treats men like you with much abandonment, disdain, jealousy and hatred. Good luck, Fraternally yours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm glad I read a book that finally says it as it is. Movies and TV shows many times miss the mental and social toll police work takes on cops and their families. I know because I'm a cop myself, in Brooklyn North for that matter. I too have been guilty of creating my own bubble, and it works but only temporarily. If you are an active cop that cares, this job will change you, is what you do with the change that matters. This book is a must read for recruits, first respondent therapists, and the families of cops that just don't understand our job. It should be read as a human story, with an open heart and w/o judgement. I applaud the author's effort; reading this book was therapeutic, inspirational and downright gripping.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love any kind of cops and robbers type books. I especially like ones where there is a thin line between right and wrong. This book made me feel like I was in both places at the same time, right and wrong, cop and robber. The book and the nasty areas where the book took place were so well defined and characterized made me feel as though I were actually watching a movie as opposed to reading a book. I also could not help feeling for the lost souls that the author so carefully introduces us to as the book moves along through his amazing yet tragic experiences. I read this book in two nights. Anyone who loves gritty down and dirty dialouge and drama will love this book. The fact that it is a true story makes it all even more surreal. This book will make an unbelievable movie, as it reminded me of all those great 70's cop flicks Serpico, Prince of the city, the 7 ups, Bullet, and The French Connection. It is a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the gallies to this book last year just as I retired from the NYPD as a Captain. This book brought me back to the heart pounding four to twelves I would work adjacent to Rob. We worked together briefly in a sreet crime unit in Brooklyn and no one out there was nearly as unique to the job at hand - catching criminals - as Rob was. This book brought me right back to the scaryness we as cops feel every time we jump a car filled with possible bad guys. I was Rob's superior officer at the time a lot of this book took place and he brought all the vivid and gory details full frontal. I knew of Rob's personal life problems and I'm proud that he was able to take all that deep pain and turn it into something positive. This book is a step by step guide showing how extremely active cops have to stay strong to remain at the top of the game, I read and re-read parts of this book many times as it made me feel so alive again - alive because I was an NYPD cop for twenty five years and came off of it standing strong and I'm happy to say it seems that the author did too. This book is a scary look into a disturbing world where in an instant any cops life can change. I loved this book!
pk868 More than 1 year ago
As a retired Police Detective of a large west coast city I found this book to be the worst piece of junk I have wasted my time on. I thought that something this bad must get better eventually but it didn't, it only got incredibly worse. This piece of trash should have never been published.
BettyF More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I read this book and I have read several other books in the interim, but I can tell you this is one of the best books I have ever read.  I believe this is the most accurate depiction of police work you are likely to find.  I am not a police officer, nor have I ever been one.  All  I know is what a very close friend, and HBT officer in Chicago, has told me, and other family members who have been in law enforcement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Plowed through reading this book - curiosity over how this would end and intrigue over his story keeps you gripped... Perfect to read on the beach
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the page one opening of this book which was a graphic and brutal depiction of the author being brutalized on a rooftop to the last page where his analogy of strapping on a firearm paling in comparrison to watching his ten year old son hitting a homerun, I could not put this book down. The book reads so much like a confessional of sins where you the reader want this cop to find the redemption he so desperately wants. The book reads like a fast paced dark novel, with stinging dialouge and eye opening realities of street level policing, I never knew existed though might have surmised. It was a great read , this I know because as I neared the end of the book I slowed the pace of my reading because I did not want it to end. It is written well with zero B.S. and a take no prisoner pace. Buy this as it is one of the best non fiction cop books I've ever read. Great job Mr. Cea
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is what police work in any major city is like...its great to hear something like this from a credible source, being that Cea retired as the 5th most decorated officer in NYPD history
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the real thing. It's an authentic look into the life of a NYC cop, criminals and the political system that corrupts them both. The dialogue is dead on too. I was considering taking the police test in NYC upon graduation but I'm definately having second thoughts now. If this scary world IS the NYPD...I'll consider being a fireman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a retired New York City Police Officer I find this book to be one of the most realistic accounts of life through the eyes of a New York City cop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dewscale. 12 moons. Warrior. LightClan. Tom. Vream coloured with black star on left ear et sea blue eyes. Kin. Random flares of anger. Otherwise fun and natural born leader. What now/Rhianna. &Delta&Xi&omega . Ask
Guest More than 1 year ago
How does one who has never been a cop know that this is the real thing...terminology and all? Amazing. He insultingly adds another opinion formulated from ignorance - preference to firefighters over policemen. Firefighters are not angels -- not by a long shot. Theft, drugs, drinking, racism, sexism, flouting of rules (residency) that apply to them as well as to other city workers, deliberate destruction of property, and on and on -- and noone seems to give a hoot about it -- because firemen are believed to be angels. If you only knew. The most amazing thing about being a cop is running into so many people who know so much about your line of work and are extremely willing to TELL YOU about it. How sad these individuals are unaware that TV, FILM and News reports -- YES NEWS REPORTS- are NOT REALITY and familiarity with subjects through these mediums does not an expert make. All in all, lets hear stories like this from people who STILL carry the badge and therefore have something to lose, not someone who yaks for a buck when the coast is clear.