WHAT COPS KNOW by Connie Fletcher


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Chicago cops report from the urban front lines in Fletcher's fascinating oral dispatch. ""Cops know things you and I don't,"" writes Fletcher (Journalism/Loyola Univ.), a claim borne out by this well-meshed compilation of cop talk--although not to the degree that, as she says, "". . .a cop who works traffic has peered deeper into the recesses of the human psyche than most shrinks."" Hyperbole aside, the several hundred testimonies presented here--ranging in length from a sentence to several pages, and distilled from three years' worth of interviews with 125 Chicago cops, from beat-walkers to brass--provide an intense nose-to-navel confrontation with the underbelly of society. Fletcher arranges her material into six sections--""The Street,"" ""Violent Crimes,"" ""Sex Crimes,"" ""Narcotics,"" ""Property Crimes,"" and ""Organized Crime""--each offering an array of commentary that regrettably is credited not individually but only to the score or so cops given brief biographies at the end of each chapter. The testimony itself is what you'd expect from cops--punchy, sad, blackly humored, nearly always interesting: ""There are different ways to handle the smell at a scene,"" explains one cop. "". . .A lot of homicide dicks stick cigarette filters up their nostrils""; ""Only two kinds of people stare at other people: nuts and police. If you want to be safe on the streets, make eye contact. . ."" says another; ""The only Americans who have ever accepted the metric system are the dope dealers,"" says a third; ""There is no bottom. There is no low. You never know what you're going to see next,"" laments a fourth--and so on. Not quite as candid--that is, self-critical--as Mark Baker's similar 1985 oral report, Cops (note: Fletcher's sister is a cop), but still an engrossing, hard-nosed briefing from the men in blue.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1990
Publisher: Villard/Random House