Blue Mafia tells the backstory behind two federal investigations of police brutality in Steubenville and Warren, Ohio, from the perspective of the victims, cops, attorneys, and officials who participated.
The story is essentially the biography of a small-town civil rights lawyer, but it is also a hard-boiled detective novel set in an era of rank corruption, smear campaigns, false imprisonments, death threats, and assassination attempts, no longer carried out by or the behest of the mob, but instead by and for the police. The book explores the controversial police brutality lawsuits leading up to the historic police reform agreements and their outcomes, using the career of a local civil rights lawyer who fought a 20-year battle against two brutal, corrupt police departments and acted as an informant to federal investigators. It is like an instruction manual for aspiring activists and civil rights defenders, as well as an idiot’s guide for law enforcement and public officials on the pitfalls of power.
In Steubenville, when attorney Richard Olivito defends a drug dealer claiming police misconduct, he begins to feel hunted. Later, he acts as an informant and collaborator to Justice Department officials investigating the Steubenville police, which results in a consent decree, or court-enforced reform agreement, the 2nd in U.S. history. A few years later, Olivito incites another federal Investigation in neighboring Warren, where residents have complained of police brutality for decades. This time is different because there Is a video. Blue Mafia shows that some small towns have at least equally severe problem with police brutality and misconduct as many big cities, and it chronicles federal reform efforts on local police agencies during five U.S. presidential administrations, providing the most detailed account to date of police reform by consent decree and revealing the messy, sometimes tragic yet always human aspects of policing.
Author of Blue Mafia