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San Diego Author Don Winslow Discusses New Novel, 'The Force'

Book jacket cover, "The Force" by author Don Winslow.
A. Anderson
Book jacket cover, "The Force" by author Don Winslow.
San Diego Author Don Winslow Discusses New Novel, 'The Force'
San Diego Author Don Winslow Discusses New Novel, “The Force” GUEST: Don Winslow, author, "The Force"

This month two police officers charged with killing unarmed black men had walked out of court men -- courtrooms on convicted. The officer accused of killing philando castile was acquitted in Minnesota and a second mistrial was declared in police involved shooting in Ohio. The appearance the police can use deadly force and not be held accountable is not expected to ease tensions between officers and the public anytime soon. A new novel makes the case that both police work and police officers are a lot more complicated than the sensational headlines in the news. Don Winslow is out with his latest crime driller called the force. He joins us now. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Series of books that includes the cartel and power of the dog were researched from San Diego. What are you doing writing a novel about New York City police. I am thought of as a California writer and that is true. But I was born in New York at the same place as the protagonist in this novel. I worked and lived in New York often on my whole life. So it is less than a department -- departure and more the homecoming in some ways. It's written from the perspective of a police detective that you have been reluctant to call it good or bad guy tell us about the circumstances he finds himself in. It is circumstances he caused. He's a cop for 18 years and a very good one charged with getting drugs and guns off the streets of Upper Manhattan and sometimes he throws some pictures to the corner of the plate but then he and his partners make one of the largest heroin bus in the city and they keep half the drugs and have the money. Does that make him a bad guy? I'm not interested in defining them as good or bad or heroes or antiheroes what I am trying to do is bring the reader into the characters world. To do that I need to see the world through those characters eyes. When I am sitting down to type I am not trying to be objective, I'm trying to be subjective. I'm not trying to make any judgments at all. Just give the characters point of view. You write about different levels of correction -- corruption from the average be top through the Mayor's office. How much of that you think goes on in the actual New York Police Department. About every 20 years there is a major scandal in NYPD that goes up and down the ranks in the criminal justice system and the Mayor's office and all of that. I'm not saying that all or even most New York City cops are corrupt but I am saying it does happen. We have seen it and we keep seeing it. There's a scandal going on right now involving high-ranking New York police officers taking favors from businessmen. What kind of feedback have you received from police officers and law enforcement on this book. It is only five days old so there is a shallow pool from which to draw for that. The few cops that I have heard from have mostly positive about it. They think I got it right and I think that they sent the humanity that it is in the book. Mind you the book is dedicated to 178 police officers who were killed while I was writing the book. Why was that important to you to do the dedication. Because I am sitting safely at my desk protected writing a book about cops while they are out there. 178 of them did not come home. I think it is important that we name them and acknowledge them. He said the feedback you have gone so far seem to be saying you got it right. How much research did you have to do for this book to get it right. A lot but that's my job. That's what we are expected to do. I'm not a journalist I'm a novelist so the book is definitely fiction but I spent a lot of time talking to cops and their families. Not really interviews but my conversations going out on the street and on patrol and all of that kind of thing. How does the force confront some of the controversial issues the nation is facing today in terms of race and use of force issues when it comes to policing. It confronts a head-on. That's one reason I wrote the book now because I think it is timely and relevant to what is going on. I do not think you can write about any big city police force in 2016 2017 without discussing race or the students. One of them the key element of the book. When I tried to do is give a balanced view of these things. These shootings are multilayered. We cannot generalize about all of them. Some of them are sheer racism others are much more complicated. It's a tough issue and if I'm asked if cops are racist I would say yes just as racist or not as the society from which they come. Last year the Sheriff's office talked about institutional racism and police departments that is an element that also sort of feeds into the kinds of things you're talking about is and X Absolutely. He made a statement -- the chief of the Chicago police issued a national apology. The border police chiefs issued an apology. There are a lot of people talking about this. When we look at these issues we have to take a historical viewpoint. The age of mass incarceration did not begin in 1993. It began in 16 19. It was called slavery. For a lot of years police -- police did not protect the rights of African-Americans but made sure that they remained enslaved. These relationships have been extremely difficult over the course of history and a lot of them are still playing out on our streets. What ties your books together is a focus on drugs. You just took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to criticize US drug policy. Why. We have been fighting this war on drugs for 50 years. The result is that drugs are more plentiful, cheaper and more powerful than they have ever been and we have more deaths resulting. 62,000 Americans die from opioid overdoses in 2016. What we are doing simply does not work. The present administration is going to try to return us to the worst days of the war on drugs vis-à-vis maximum sentences arrests for marijuana and all kinds of things that are absolutely counterproductive. I have been speaking with Don Winslow who will be speaking about his latest novel the force at Warwick's in La Jolla tonight and this Friday at mysterious Galaxy. Thank you so much Don. Thank you so much for having me.

Don Winslow's previous crime thrillers have focused on Mexican drug cartels, now the New York Times-bestselling author, who lives in Julian, is turning his attention to corrupt New York City police officers.

Winslow's latest novel, “The Force”, follows a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant who finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

"The Force" explores the ethical tightrope police officers walk and the rising tensions between law enforcement and the public.

The crime novel is based on years of research and interviews with New York City police officers. It is Winslow's 20th book.

RELATED: San Diego County Author Examines Drug War Consequences

Winslow, who worked as a private investigator in New York before becoming a writer, discussed Monday on Midday Edition why "The Force" is the book he wanted to write for years.

Book Events

Monday

7:30 p.m.

Warwick's 7812 Girard Ave in La Jolla

Friday

7:30 p.m.

Mysterious Galaxy 5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100 in San Diego

Both events are free and open to the public.