Reporters Friedman and Jacobs don't really attack the failures of our law enforcement system as a whole. Their vignettes--from inside the station house and on patrol in New York's 24th Precinct--do make one aware, often uncomfortably so, of the police as human beings. Some of the officers (including one whose job as school liaison has recently been abolished) fit right into the old-fashioned model of the friendly cop on the beat. Others are ""collar hungry"" and seem destined to be rewarded with promotions to detective. Most spend an inordinate amount of time ogling women. Of three woman patrol officers, one acts tough, one ladylike, and the third, who doesn't care to play a role, is frozen out--sent to investigate a robbery, she's left pounding on the door by her indifferent partner inside. These police do arrest felons and help out in emergencies, and certain missions (a call to rescue a child) are treated here as sentimental celebrations. There's also some debate about whether cops should interpret the law or just enforce it strictly--but the issues stop short at parking tickets and summonses to peddlers. The authors themselves remain fairly indulgent of hard-boiled attitudes and Sisyphean routines, but they leave room for a whole spectrum of reactions, from admiration and occasional outrage to the low grade frustration that seems to predominate among police and citizens alike.