After 20 years on the force, and five years shy of retirement, he resigned last year. Today, he makes a living from a contract as a CNN law-enforcement analyst, although once you factor in health care, the income isn’t as good as his police salary. He tells me he’s worried all the time about money. It’s one reason he wrote a book.
Leave aside the specifics of Jan. 6, in fact, and Fanone’s book is also a story about class in Washington, documenting the chasm between the national-capital VIPs who run the government and the hometown-D.C. folks who serve the drinks and staff the preschools and, yes, patrol the streets. These tribes exist in perpetually close proximity, but it can take a calamity to force them to interact: On Jan. 6, Fanone had plans to work a heroin case in a public housing project; he only became a public figure because a police radio alerted him to the mob at the Capitol.
The upstairs-downstairs vibe adds a certain tension to Fanone’s interactions with the high and mighty. He’s a reminder, just for a minute, that the capital’s somebodies owe their safety to a large cast of nobodies. (Fanone actually has a better sense than many of the divide between insiders and outsiders: As a teen, he spent a year at Georgetown Prep, the elite school that produced Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch; he was, um, “not invited back.”)
But longtime members of the Washington village could probably also learn something from the ex-cop’s descriptions of the places where the two worlds intersect. People who comfort themselves that the District’s locals would never be so dismissive as the elected big-shots will not enjoy the description of the D.C. councilmember Fanone says told him that she didn’t want to honor the police department’s Jan. 6 work because so many constituents hate cops. And people who rest assured that this blue bubble of a city doesn’t contain the sorts of tribal furies that get lured to town by the likes of Donald Trump will probably not feel better to read his characterization of the city’s police department as racially riven and full of Jan. 6 deniers.
Fanone and I actually had another reminder of this same phenomenon, of Washington not being such a bubble after all, about an hour after we scooted away from the courthouse. After driving around for a while in his truck, we’d stopped for coffee at a Starbucks on Capitol Hill. It was a sunny, quiet afternoon in one of Washington’s most charming residential neighborhoods. We snagged a seat on the coffee shop’s outdoor patio. Before long, a woman appeared on the deck of the elegant rowhouse apartment building next door. She was holding a sign directed at Fanone: “Who Is Ray Epps?” Epps, in the fevered imaginings of conspiracy theorists, was part of a supposed FBI scheme to frame Trump supporters for the insurrection. She yelled at me to grill Fanone about the converup.
Even amid the placid Victoriana, Fanone’s reality was right there. Two days later, news would break that the FBI was investigating threatening calls and messages to him. He fully expects things to get nuttier still when the book officially launches on Oct. 11. But at least for a second, he appeared to appreciate the absurdity.
Fanone pulled out his phone and took a selfie with the sign-bearing woman in the background, mugging for the camera.