THE BIG BLUE LINE by Ed Cray

THE BIG BLUE LINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A nationwide review of police brutality and malpractice and of the need for civilian review boards everywhere, this study deserves the widest possible distribution and earnest consideration. It documents 200 cases in which the police are openly in error, cases generally whitewashed by departmental review boards. The cases are drawn heavily from the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., areas, but the facts are often astounding. For instance, in a 31-year period in L.A., only 632 search warrants were issued, an average of 21 per year. However, police made 150,000 arrests each year, which means that only 1 case in every 7,000 merited a search warrant. Aside from search, Cray spotlights police practices in arrest procedures, wiretapping, interrogation and extorting confessions. (An unconscionable number of suspects ""fall down stairs"" in police stations and receive serious injuries.) Among the famous cases involved are those of the George Whitmore ""confession"" of the double-murder of two Manhattan career girls, a crime for which Richard Robles was later convicted; and the case of Danny Escabedo. The Escabedo case illustrates the evasion of the law's requirements to protect the civil liberties of a suspect. The account of huge L.A. police squads making destructive raids on a Muslim temple, shooting it up and destroying everything in sight, then trying to burn the place down, has to be read to be even half-believed. Philadelphia's civilian review board is presented as a model for study.... All told, this is a smashing indictment that couldn't come at a more sensitive moment.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1966
Publisher: Coward-McCann