Villain or victim, the policeman has recently drawn much attention from analysts of the national psyche. L. H. Whittemore here lets the men in blue tell it themselves in a series of closeups drawn from tapes and observations made while he accompanied officers on their rounds. The types vary. There is Minelli, whose beat is Harlem, a furiously frustrated, ill-educated man, putting down, for the benefit of a rookie, the ""junkie whores"" and ""future Black Muslims"" on the streets (and the Communists on the Supreme Court); the very model of ""fascist pig,"" writhing under the tensions of being a hated white cop in a black community. There is Cox, black detective on Chicago's South Side: intelligent, decent, and sensitive, whose successful search for a murderer threads through the taperecorded daily routine. And there are Barker and Cummings, young foot patrolmen, who survey, with mixed sympathy and contempt, the Haight-Ashbury scene in the fearful aftermath of the Summer of Love. The voices are authentic, if overly familiar from previous appearances on the TV screen and in the reports of Presidential Commissions. And Whittemore's conclusions (the cops are human and reflect our values) are a little tired too. But the figures so effectively presented here offer the enduring fascination of violent men working dangerous territory and will have some reader appeal.