The justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News debuts with an examination of the tensions between police and blacks, presenting potential obstacles to improvement formulas for tension reduction.
Pegues grew up in a black family in a mostly white environment, and he writes that he suffered no ill treatment by police due to his skin color. However, as a journalist for 10 years at a New York City TV station and while roaming the nation for CBS, he has observed countless examples of police malfeasance, including multiple shootings of unarmed black men. The author, who has won three Emmy Awards, attempts to understand the tensions from many perspectives: victims of excessive force, police chiefs, street cops, black community activists, academic researchers, and elected politicians from city councils to the White House. “No matter where you live,” writes Pegues, “whether we like to admit this or not, the relationship between the police and communities of color affects all of us.” The book is filled with useful insights that will help readers with varying perspectives understand the genesis of these tensions and how they have grown over the years. Unfortunately, the story is hampered by excessive quoting from interviews, reports, and speeches, which limits the author’s ability to develop his own narrative style. Some of the interview transcripts are gripping and enlightening, but many are turgid and uninteresting; ditto the reports and speeches. In one of the more successful chapters, the author recounts his return to his birthplace of Westport, Connecticut. Pegues relates his childhood experiences and then includes a transcript of a conversation with the police chief, an immigrant from Greece who rose through the law enforcement hierarchy. Another successful chapter centers on a conversation with a Chicago alderman, a former street cop elected to represent a mostly black neighborhood.
An informative book that could have been presented better.