Tony Bouza

Tony Bouza has served as a police chief, a gaming commissioner, briefly as a politician, and is the author of several books on policing and criminal justice. He has been writing for Southside Pride for several years.


Click this link to read the latest collection of Tony Bouza’s essays:

More Lessons Learned by Tony Bouza


Click this link to see the award-winning 1977 documentary “The Police Tapes” featuring Bronx Borough Commander Tony Bouza: The Police Tapes

Oedipus the King

BY TONY BOUZA The Greeks were the finest expression of civilization ever. Why? Because they made their citizens better humans. How? By cautioning against hubris (pride) and avoiding hamartia (the critical flaw). The antidote? Merciless introspection. Oedipus was the toughest, smartest, most admirable—yet, came a cropper, wandering blindly in the…

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How to get rich

BY TONY BOUZA Grinding poverty concentrates the mind powerfully. If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? Money talks … We live in a merciless capitalist society. You’re either at the table or on the menu. My reaction to such cruelty? Bravo! There’s never been a more generous economic idea…

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Voilà, a vacancy

BY TONY BOUZA The sitting (and I use the term advisedly) Chief of Police capped a distinguished police career with his greatest feat—the announcement of his departure. Mirabile dictu! In my insufferable hubris (“That Tony Bouza, he sure is full of himself, isn’t he?”—overheard one wag to another) I hasten…

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Accountability and other myths

BY TONY BOUZA America is in the throes of an agonizing debate—police reform—and it has no answers. Yet that’s how the U.S. tackles its problems—and often solves them—through heated fulminations and some final distillations into changes. The biggest problems—today—are racism and income disparity. George Floyd launched the discussion on race…

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Free speech

BY TONY BOUZA What a facile phrase. Rolls off the tongue so easily we fail to concentrate on its miraculous value. Americans profess it promiscuously, but I’ve found that, when push comes to shove, few really believe in it enough to risk anything meaningful, unless it applies to them. An…

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The MPD budget

BY TONY BOUZA The Minneapolis Police Department budget document itself is a turgid piece of bureaucratic invention intended to obfuscate and mislead you into thinking your $200 million is being sensibly spent. It ain’t. The pages are replete with references to how sedulously they monitor and invest your dollars, how…

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Why I love cops

BY TONY BOUZA One of the many flaws I’ve nurtured over what seems to have evolved into an interminable stay on the planet is a serious predilection for criticism. I’m always going on about this idiot or that fool. Surely I can’t be infallible on the issues. And I am…

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Magical thinking

BY TONY BOUZA Another proposed system change to reform the police. How we love gimmicks and formulaic answers. And yet, in our real lives, we mostly tend to be more practical. In the end we usually find that the person matters and the system can be manipulated. Talented folks make…

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BY TONY BOUZA Policing in America, today, is about where medical science was in the 19th century—desperate for reform but staggering blindly under the problems. Hacksaws, in the Civil War, got plenty of mileage. Wounds got fingered and microbes ignored. Progress came and discoveries flowed with surprising ease, right? Actually,…

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The Feds are coming, The Feds are coming

BY TONY BOUZA A group of Federales is scheduled to assess the Minneapolis Police Department. It is tantamount to an archeological dig among the ruins. With characteristic hubris I will offer an agenda. Welcome to Fredonia. They will find an agency bloated with supervisors—but none making appearances at such atrocities…

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The Stenvig Years

BY TONY BOUZA Nostalgia is morbid homesickness. We are all susceptible. Take, for example, the Stenvig Years. The Seventies. Charles Stenvig, the president of the police union, got elected mayor three times for two-year terms, almost explicitly on the premise he’d control Black riots. The echoes I hear are of…

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BY TONY BOUZA In the English history of man the wise (Homo sapiens) there has never been even one who didn’t consider him(her)self a national leader. It might tempt you to ask—then where are all those cockups coming from? People—leadership is in short supply. Just looking at our last few…

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Cindy Gerdes

BY TONY BOUZA The awful, awful thing about bureaucracy is its cold indifference. Many of my colleagues sought comfort, salaries and pensions while wallowing in self-pity and whining like gold medalists. Humanity was the great missing thing. Shortly before I left policing—for the first time voluntarily—we had an awful murder—Cindy…

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BY TONY BOUZA Our—or any—society is driven by values. We repeatedly extoll the virtues of truth tellers and honest dealers. Our airways are clogged with boasts of integrity. Our morality defines us and we emphasize these beliefs in the artifacts of culture. There are not too many statues left of…

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BY TONY BOUZA One of my closest friends, Joe Selvaggio, (who is probably well known to you) has done more for poor people than anyone but Mary Jo Copeland. Joe is an ex-priest and has strayed. Today he wrestles with death and asked me to include this and respond: “The…

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