COP WORLD: Policing the Streets of San Diego by James McClure

COP WORLD: Policing the Streets of San Diego

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The tedium-filled, drama-spiked daily lives of the Second Watch, Central Division, San Diego Police Department, by a veteran cop-observer (McClure documented Liverpool's bobbies in Spike Island) who says he insisted on ""free access, no editorial interference"" and found ""a radical departure from conventional police attitudes"" in the department's low-key, professionalism-geared Community Oriented Policing (""COP"") program. This overlong account often bogs down in aimless, cross-cut vignettes of day-to-day street patrol (San Diego's cops seem to spend an inordinate amount of time hauling drunks to detox centers) and endless verbatim transcriptions of cops' monologues about themselves and the job. But occasionally in this morass McClure strikes paydirt--for example, some: throwaway California observations: ""hand-lettered advertisements for used surfboards"" in the squad conference room; a sergeant who packs Perrier in his patrol car; Muzak in the Burglary unit office; and pink-frame sunglasses on a SWAT-team member. Notwithstanding Police Chief Bill Kolender's somewhat heavy-handed p.r. for the COP program's efforts to alter citizens' stereotyping of police (""instead of just goin' out and knockin' heads. . . we're sitting down and talking to them. . . you've got to look at the big picture through a wide-angle lens""), McClure's evidence suggests that San Diego's police officers--at least the younger ones--support the program (""It's a different kind of macho, more subtle""). While some are still hooked by the drama (""what interests me is the fact that every second has the potential of being exciting""), many of San Diego's police seem laid-back in an especially Californian mode. (""I just enjoy the game,"" says one vice officer. ""It makes no difference to me whether or not we catch them or we lose them. . . It's a fun thinS to do."") Intermittently rewarding, then, though readers of Wambangh's hard-nosed Lines and Shadows may wonder if this is the same San Diego Police Department.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1985
Publisher: Pantheon