A friend of mine recently sent me a copy of Rosa Brooks’ new book, “Tangled Up in Blue.” Such a good title about the police subculture and the difficulty of untangling the current culture!
Interestingly, Brook’s is the daughter of Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote a book about the working poor and low wages in America. Like mother, like daughter, Brooks also became a participant observer in an American police department.
Brooks is a law professor, author, and international anti-violence consultant who decided to become a cop and report on the experience. In 2015, shortly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Brooks made application to join the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police as a volunteer sworn and armed police officer. Her training was quite different than regular full-time officers, but still the culture and its problems strongly emerged.
Brooks book, by the way, is a justification for many things I have said on this blog about improving our police — and which a number of police have disagreed.
Nevertheless, I submit that Brooks shows why I have proposed much of the same ideas about police selection, training, and leadership. This book needs to be read because it portrays what is going on today in a relatively good police department.
Some of her observations:
- The military-style boot camp atmosphere of police training is not conducive to the behaviors we want our police to practice.
- Police training over-emphasizes firearms over violence de-escalation methods.
- Instructors at the academy do not reinforce the messages and desires of top management.
- A “bad attitude” and “us versus them” is introduced in the academy and reinforced afterwards in the field.
- Police recruits are inundated by training videos showing police being beaten, bit, pummeled and shot which imposes fear in them — “Beware! You can be killed at any time.” (You cannot do Community-Oriented Policing if you fear the community!)
- Recruits are given little information about race and the history of policing. No Critical Race Theory (CRT) training there.
Not to give up, Brooks went on to develop with the department and Georgetown’s Law Center, an educational program for a young cadre of future police leaders. See Innovative Policing Program. “Hope springs eternal!” — Alexander Pope, poet, 1732.
Find her book HERE.
For a longer interview of Brooks and her journey in policing, see HERE.