The Spark

(Independently published, 2021)

The Spark book cover

As the NBA All-Star game day approaches, police and the FBI become aware of a potential terror attack on the game by white supremacists. As the clock winds down to game day, police officials work feverishly to halt the attack.

The book opens with the January 6 attack at the Capitol and as the story develops, the characters confront the country’s most pressing problems. The book ends with a hopeful but disturbing climax.


Shots Fired: Gun Violence in the Untied States

(Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020)

Shots Fired book cover

Mass killings. Gang violence. Street crimes. Suicides. Accidental shootings. The United States is enduring a literal epidemic of gun violence. Howard Rahtz, drawing on decades of experience as a police officer all too familiar with the horrors that guns can cause, delves deeply into the nature and impact of this epidemic. Rahtz explores each element of the triangle of ability, desire, and opportunity that typically characterizes gun violence. Going further, he also suggests practical, “left of bang” preventative actions―steps that could limit the violence while respecting contentious Second Amendment rights.


Race, Riots and The Police

(Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016)

Race, Riots, and the Police cover

Reflected almost daily in headlines, the enormous rift between the police and the
communities they serve—especially African American communities—remains one
of the major challenges facing the United States. And race—related riots continue to
be a violent manifestation of that rift. Can this dismal state of affairs be changed?
Can the distrust between black citizens and the police ever be transformed into
mutual respect?

Howard Rahtz addresses this issue, first tracing the history of race riots in the US
and then drawing on both the lessons of that history and his own first-hand experience
to offer a realistic approach for developing and maintaining a police force that is a true community partner.


“An excellent book! It covers fresh ground and offers hope of not endlessly repreating the mistakes of the past.”
-Richard Biehl, Chief of Police, Dayton, Ohio

“Rahtz does not just point out what has gone wrong; he provides a compelling vision of what policing can look like if law enforcement leaders have the political will and the courage to change.”
–Diane Goldstein, Retired Police Lieutenant and Executive Board member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

“A captivating work…incorporating graphic, sometimes alarming observations, Rahtz investigates the dynamics of power in the criminal justice system…He brings together his skills as a practitioner and his theoretical insights to address some of society’s most compelling social problems.”
–Rachel L. Rayburn, Indiana-Purdue University, Ft. Wayne

“This is an important book—unique in content and scope..It is controversial , but refreshing; creative, yet practical. It affirms the critical role of police in our society, but is also a call for change. I could not be more enthusiastic in my praise of this compelling work.”
–Gerald Reid, University of Cincinnati


Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment

(Hamilton Books 2012)

Drugs, Crime, and Violence cover

“The Drug War is clearly not fulfilling any of its goals to reduce drug use or keep us safe.” Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” Since that time, the country has incarcerated thousands of citizens and spent billions of dollars, and yet the drug problem rolls on. Today, the illegal drug market funds international terrorism, the horrific drug war on the Mexican border, and the senseless violence plaguing our communities, large and small. It is past time for a new direction. This book provides a drug policy framework that will choke off the revenue supporting the illegal drug market. Howard Rahtz outlines a series of drug policy steps buttressed by a historical review of drug policy measures, a review of international efforts against trafficking, and a clear understanding of the dynamics of addiction and its role in facilitating the illegal drug market.


“Howard Rahtz has presented one of the most comprehensive works ever written dealing with the multiple layers of problems caused by drugs and alcohol in our society. His intuitive analyses of our drug policies, along with his insights into our interdiction and law enforcement efforts, have rightfully concluded that unless we begin to make major changes in our attitudes, laws, and social policies, we may never come close to resolving this ubiquitous and devastating dilemma.”
– Lawrence M. Anthony, Ph.D., LICDC, substance abuse treatment specialist, U.S. District Court, coordinator, Addictions Studies, Beckfield College


Understanding Police Use of Force

(Criminal Justice Press Project 2003)

Understanding Police Use of Force cover

“It is always an ugly story. Whether it’s the videotaped beating of Rodney King, 41 shots fired by New York police officers in the Amadou Diallo death, or a single shot killing an unarmed teenager in Cincinnati, police use of force is perhaps the most contentious issue in our country.” So begins Howard Rahtz’s balanced and insightful overview of the use of force in American policing. This book strives to enrich public discussion by tracing current trends in the use of force, exploring the impact of this issue on race relations, and evaluating the numerous options proposed for minimizing the use of force in police work. The author notes that police in the U.S. rarely use force against civilians, and that the use of deadly force has steadily declined in the past 25 years. Nevertheless, he cautions that force situations are often fraught with grave dangers for citizens, communities and police officers themselves. Although there is no panacea, Rahtz outlines numerous areas where improvements can be achieved in reducing the use of force.


Howard Rahtz has made a tremendous contribution to the public discussion on the police use of force…” –
John Eck, Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati “This book will appeal to a broad audience…it provides valuable insights and new contributions to the ongoing public debate…” – Joe Brann, former director of U.S. COPS office


Community Policing : A Handbook for Beat Cops and Supervisors

(Criminal Justice Press Project 2001)

Community Policing cover

This practical and clearly written manual explains the advantages and “how to” of effective community policing. Rahtz describes many examples of successful community policing, drawn from his own distinguished career as a Cincinnati police officer and manager, and from the research literature. In community policing, patrol officers enlist community members as partners in solving local problems that breed crime and disorder. This does not mean that community policing is the same as “social work,” “public relations” or being “soft on crime.” To the contrary, working cooperatively with the community can help patrol officers become more effective in preventing and solving crimes. And community policing is usually more satisfying and less frustrating for the cop on the beat than the “treadmill” of chasing radio calls. Community policing is neither complicated nor difficult to put into practice, according to the author who offers step-by-step guidance for forging productive partnerships between patrol officers and community members. He then illustrates the use of problem-solving methods in community policing, and outlines the key supporting roles played by police supervisors and administrators. A wealth of suggestions and resources are provided to illustrate how officers can get started with effective community policing.


“Howard Rahtz has made community policing accessible for the beat cop. His handbook cites real-world examples of how community policing works. He also cites research to back the examples, but he doesn’t get bogged down in statistics or academics. This is a primer. Every new cop should read this in the police academy. Every veteran cop should too. And supervisors should refer to it regularly. I’ve taught community policing classes for years. This handbook does in less than 150 pages what I’ve tried to get done in hours and hours of classes. This handbook explains in simple terms that community policing is a philosophy of action. It makes the SARA model of problem solving easy to understand. Howard Rahtz obviously knows his topic and he writes in easy to read, street cop language. This book doesn’t belong on the shelf. It should be on your desk, in your briefcase, or in your hands. And it should be read by every community leader, from the elected officials to those volunteers who are so vital to making community policing work.”
– A.C. March