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Michael Codella p3

Michael Codella talks about the dangers of working as a police officer in Alphabet City in the late 1980s…

READERSVOICE.COM: Police work seemed like going into a warzone when you working in the 1980s, starting in PS 1 in Coney Island and going on to the Lower East Side, with the burnt out buildings and shooting galleries and hustlers and guns in the projects. Did you feel like it was almost like going to war every day, or did you still feel fairly safe?

MICHAEL CODELLA: Going to work as a cop back in the 80’s did sometimes have a feeling of going to war, I guess. I’ve never been a soldier in combat, but working in Alphabet City, with its high crime rate and shootings, burnt out abandoned buildings, and shooting galleries did put a person on edge.  The uncertainty of having to “shoot or be shot”; staying alert; dealing with drug users who are infected with contagious diseases; violent felons — things which are unpredictable, of course has a tendency to put a person on edge; and of course it causes cops to be defensive almost as if in a war situation. 

In the book I talk about how they used to call Alphabet City/ Lower East Side “The Volcano”, because it could erupt at anytime.  The truth is, you could be walking down Avenue D thinking it seems pretty calm, and the next thing you know there’s a shooting right across from you; or some strung-out junkie or dusted-out freak might just decide to pull a knife out and stab you; or it could be like in my book, where I speak about how someone threw a refrigerator off the roof, and almost crushed me to death. 

I’ve been involved with many life or death situations, and whether that occurs here in New York or overseas in war I guess doesn’t matter. At the end of the day everyone, cops and soldiers, just want to go home safe to their families and friends.

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