All the ugliness, danger, and misery of life as a big-city cop, told with perception, humor, and apparently without fear of reprisals by a 16-year veteran on the Chicago police force.
Gallo joined up in 1982 because she needed a secure job to support her two children. Already a trained psychologist, she thought she’d be working as a therapist in the department’s counseling center. She was wrong. After six months at the police academy, where brutality and humiliation were freely employed as teaching techniques and the most important law to be learned was “Cover Your Ass,” and after six more months as a recruit (during which time she killed a man in a shootout), she was assigned to a beat. It was a tough West Side district replete with rundown housing projects, gangs, drug dealers, whores, and hustlers. Appalling domestic violence, heinous child and animal abuse, and encounters with lots of dead bodies and body parts were part of the daily routine in this savage world. Gallo also served in a plainclothes unit, where for a time the job required her to pose as a prostitute. Frank about the social failings of the citizens she was serving, the gutsy author is similarly forthright in describing the cops she worked with and for; along with the decent ones were cowards, liars, thieves, drug users, and gang members. She has much to say about attitudes toward and treatment of female cops, by both the public and policemen, and it’s not pretty. Eventually she was teamed with a woman she respected and admired, but gunshot wounds forced her partner into early retirement. Gallo’s own career on the force ended in 1998 when she too was badly injured.
An utterly credible picture of what a big-city cop’s life is really like and of how being a cop affects thinking, beliefs, and behavior.