From the streets of Harlem to Kingston, Jamaica, a 26-year retired DEA agent provides a personal, yet cursory history of the U.S. war on drugs.
***** DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line. By Lew Rice; published by Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc., www.dorrancebookstore.com (Web); 88 pages, $12.
Since Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” nearly four decades ago, dozens, if not hundreds, of law enforcement veterans have put pen to paper and detailed their experiences and perspectives, sometimes with shocking revelations.
With DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line, Lew Rice joins those ranks. A 26-year agency veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Lew Rice has spent his career at some of the most dangerous locations in the drug trade: Detroit; Philadelphia; Washington D.C.; and Kingston, Jamaica, rounding out his tenure as special agent in charge of the New York division.
It takes a special type of person to undertake these extremely dangerous jobs—especially undercover work—and the author is one of them. Unfortunately, he gives the reader only a basic overview of his no-doubt rich 26-year career. From the undercover street deals in Harlem to getting shot in Brooklyn, many of the incidents presented are compelling, but they are presented in far less detail than necessary to convey the real story.
Despite the book’s brevity, Rice offers several interesting anecdotes and professional lessons that give the reader cause for contemplation. Rice’s work in Jamaica, in particular his collaboration with State Department officials there, highlights the importance of diplomacy in drug enforcement. In Chapter 8, it was refreshing to read how, as special agent in charge of Detroit’s DEA office, he initiated positive leadership philosophies like “rewarding in public and disciplining in private.”
Rice also writes about his transition from the DEA pre-9-11 to the world of corporate security. His recollection of a laptop-theft incident in Chapter 10 illustrates that a law enforcement and criminal justice approach is not necessarily applicable to the corporate security management environment.
Anyone interested in criminal history, law enforcement, and undercover operations, as well as anyone looking for a short, interesting read about narcotics enforcement, would enjoy this book. Don’t get settled in though, as the chapters come and go quickly.
Reviewer: Kevin Siegmund, PSP, is a court security officer with Inter-Con Security in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A retired first sergeant in the Army military police, he specializes in physical security and antiterrorism. Siegmund holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in security management from American Military University and is chairman of ASIS International’s Baton Rouge Chapter.