POLICE REPORT: A View of Law Enforcement by Jerry Wilson

POLICE REPORT: A View of Law Enforcement

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KIRKUS REVIEW

If you're expecting some Neanderthal rhetoric from the man who, in his capacity as police chief of Washington, D.C., was responsible for the unconscionable mass arrests of May, 1971, you're barking up the wrong call box. Police Report presents only the safest and most impersonal observations about organizational and managerial issues, in a coolly noncommittal vein which suggests that Wilson is really writing for an audience of Martian sociologists. Assignment of personnel to ""line"" or staff functions, vertical promotion vs. ""lateral"" diversion of officers depending on their interests and capabilities, the pros and cons of using civilians at any level--you'd never-know from Wilson's textbookish approach that there are controversial community implications in any of these questions. He steers clear of partisan disputes: he sounds less than rapturous about the Warren Court's narrowing of evidentiary procedures, but studiously confines himself to suggesting that police departments hire legal advisors and draw up procedural guidelines to avoid clashes with the courts. Even the issue of mass demonstrations fails to draw him out: he might as well be talking about table manners as about field arrest policies in ""fluid situations."" (He does manage one firecracker about how ""being teargassed can be fun, especially for teenagers and young adults""--think of all the heroic stories they can swap afterwards.) Wilson's best moments come when he allows a spark of personal conviction to shine through. Thus he rises to a spirited denunciation of the ""professionalizing"" syndrome which would require a college degree for all police officers, and gets in a few digs about how ""police brutality"" becomes a whipping boy for prosecutorial errors which result in the release of accused criminals. Still the main focus of the book is managerial and it will be of limited interest to a general audience.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Little, Brown