Solana Beach author details police career in ‘The Midnight Coffee Club’

Jason James Barry
(Jason James Barry)

Following in the footsteps of his father, Jason James Barry became a police officer in his home state of Connecticut.

In his new book, “The Midnight Coffee Club,” Barry tells the story of how he turned to police work after starting his career in journalism, the highs and lows of being on the force, and his relationship with his father.

“This book focuses on the street police aspect,” said Barry, who now lives in Solana Beach. “I found myself in the unique position to be able to write about what it is that the police life entails and what it’s like. For a long time there was a lot of pride in policing, but at some point that changed. It’s almost become a taboo, being a police officer. I wanted to humanize that work. I didn’t want to glamorize it, I didn’t want to seek pity for it, but I think people have their notions of what police life is like, and I wanted to take readers there so that they could experience what it was to be a police officer and what police carry with them.”

Jason James Barry authored "The Midnight Coffee Club."
(Jason James Barry)

Barry initially started his career in journalism after his father discouraged him from becoming a police officer.

“I had tried to find a middle ground in some ways in my mind, and I ended up becoming a journalist,” Barry said. “Of course I gravitated towards investigative journalism.”

After several years working for a daily newspaper in Connecticut, he started a law enforcement career that went from Connecticut police to the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he investigated organized crime in New York City and narco-terrorists with Middle Eastern ties.

“A lot of it feels contemporaneous because I was writing it as it was going on,” Barry said. “The next night or after the next shift I would take a few minutes and jot some things down. That was the journalist in me. And then when I had some time to reflect further, I started to expand and reflect.”

Police officers are also under more public scrutiny than ever before following high-profile fatalities, including George Floyd in 2020, and other abuses of power.

“I’m not making excuses for the bad ones, I’m an advocate that the bad ones need to go away, but along the way I think all police officers are left with the stigma that all cops are bad,” Barry said. “I hope there can be some restoration for what police represent.”

The book also describes how he navigated some of the more complicated situations that came up on the job.

“Most cops are doing their job, just taking calls one thing at a time, and it becomes so clear to me at some points that you can go from having a very normal day — just patrol, maybe stop a couple cars, stopping at some merchant locations and saying hello to people — and then you’re off on some violent altercation that you’re trying to stifle and making life-altering decisions in the blink of an eye,” Barry said.

“The Midnight Coffee Club: A Memoir of Grit, Glimmers, and the Pull of Police Life,” is published by Prattlon Digital Media, and available on Amazon and at select bookstores.