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To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD's Century of War in the City of Dreams Paperback – September 25, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Figueroa Press (September 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972762558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972762557
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The opening scene is a doozy: Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles, faces an angry crowd just after the acquittals in the Rodney King beating trial. "Say what you gonna do," a fat woman bellows. "It's your police department. Say what you gonna do!" Little does the crowd realize the power of the LAPD. Joe Domanick goes back to the 1930s to find the roots of that power, and takes readers through the history of what he calls "a quasi-military organization ... outside of the democratic system of checks and balances." Domanick has a brisk, energetic prose style. In his hands these stories of antilabor squads and Red baiting, dragnets and "robocops," generate so much suspense, reading To Protect and to Serve is almost like watching a movie. And, as the Los Angeles Times writes, "While Domanick unearths much dirt about the LAPD leaders, To Protect and to Serve excels at drawing fair, empathic, multidimensional portraits of their lives." This book was the winner of the 1995 Edgar Award for best fact crime. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In a tradition dating back to the 19th century, the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department had life tenure and was therefore arguably accountable to no one, not even to the police commission. How that situation, reformed only in 1992 in the wake of Daryl Gates's handling of the Rodney King affair, protected the careers of police chiefs of the likes of William Parker (Watts riot of 1965) and Gates is the thrust of this dramatic study by freelance writer Domanick. He delineates the hold of the white, conservative, largely Protestant establishment on the City of Angels, who allowed the police department to run the city like an army of occupation, brutalizing minorities. The mayor, city council and police commission alike, shows Domanick, ignored or at best minimally curbed abuses by the police force. But with the riots of 1992, LAPD reforms were finally established under Charter Amendment F. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ken Jackson on April 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a veteran police officer and a native Angeleno whose hobbies include the history of Los Angeles and the L.A.P.D. Joe Domanick's book is an obviously well researched piece that skillfully weaves together a view of historical L.A. and it's police dept. I have read the book three times and enjoy it anew with each revisit. I am deeply aware of the Department's history and can say that the author has hit his mark with this very intriguing and thoroughly researched book. I recommend this book to anyone that wants to familiarize themselves with the true psyche of The Los Angeles Police Department. My hat is off to you Joe Domanick!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Mcguine on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot speak to the author's research until after his discussions in 1962. As a former officer, having experienced the Watts riots, worker the riots and assigned to 77 Street Division, all I can say is he is WRONG about the riot. His depiction of a rouge Department is unbelievable. Allow me one example. I worked Wilshire Division in 1962. We had two man patrol units then and even before that. The author claims two man units were introduced just prior to the riots because of the tension building in the community. That is false. There was no tension. The bottom line is simple. EVERY NEWS channel showed the looting as it was occurring. It could not be stopped. There were 200,000 people rioting with 3,000 officers on duty to protect 465 square miles of LA. All we could do is surround the area and prevent the riot from spreading. Not until the National Guard was called in and a curfew established was order established. I find his book scattered with misinformation.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
What could have been an authoritative, definitive history of the LAPD instead disintegrated into a police-bashing screed by Mr. Domanick. His obvious biases prevented any kind of dispassioned, reasoned analysis of the LAPD; instead, Mr. Domanick merely spewed the tired liberal dogma of "bad police", of the police as simply "the Man" trying to keep folks down. His historical accounting of the LAPD was so tainted by his personal animus that reading this account was painful. A big disappointment for a topic worthy of insightful, reasoned anaysis.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on February 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Joe Domanick moved from Queens NY to Los Angeles in the mid 1970s. He noticed the unusual power and autonomy of the LAPD. The `Acknowledgments' list the people and sources who helped him with this 1994 book. Is the LAPD "the most powerful, most independent, most arrogant, most feared, and most political big-city police department" (p.7)? The 465 square miles of Los Angeles had the fewest police per resident, and no major police scandals as in other big cities (pp.13-14). The manufacturing economy of South Central and East L.A. collapsed in the late 1970s and created high unemployment (p.15). This book lacks references to the `Source Notes'.

Part Two gives the history of Los Angeles and explains the development of the Police Department. August Vollmer began the professionalization to deal with corruption (p.49). What if this led to a powerful and independent entity? Police Chief James Davis invented the "dragnet" to stop and search for any "suspicious characters" (p.64). Mainstream reformers critical of the LAPD and City Hall were entrapped and arrested, the funds coming from organized crime (pp.54-56)! How could vice, gambling, and bootlegging flourish under a law-and-order police chief (p.56)? Davis also invented the "bum blockade" in 1936 to keep out people from other states (pp.60-62). The "Red Squad" broke strikes and attacked unions (pp.63-64). The shooting of a gambler united the forces of reform (p.75). Did the Intelligence Squad set a bomb in the car of an investigator for the reform movement (p.77)? Bill Parker rewrote Section 202 of the city charter to create new powers for all LAPD officers (p.94). There would be no checks and balances on the LAPD (p.95). There were no corruption scandals as in other big cities.
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By T. Libonate on September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From one side, I found the author's writing style to be mean-spirited and his analysis to lack the objectivity I would have expected considering how well he researched the historical information. From the other side, he skillfully weaves together a view of historical L.A. and the tradition of excess and abuse within its Police Department.

The book is engaging and enlightening, and the long-standing issues/problems within LAPD management are obvious from the facts presented by the author. However, the author's obvious bias, sarcasm and anti-police slant discredit the facts and attempts at establishing objectivity. The author should have respected the words of Dragnet's iconic LAPD character, Officer Joe Friday ... "only the facts, nothing but the facts."

I often felt that his historical accounting of the LAPD was so tainted by his personal bias, I became dubious reading accounts of legitimate LAPD abuses. The diatribes directed at conservatives, an oppressive US government, Reagan, etc. felt forced and misplaced. He should have let the facts speak for themselves ... they would have spoken louder.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Joe Domanic documents the secret culture of the LAPD which an amazing eye for detail. He notes how the political structure has impacted policing nearly since the turn of the century (when the LAPD ran Goon Squads to crush the unions and "Commies") and how the efforts by Chief Parker in the 50-60's to free them Police from politics ultimately made them accountable to no one, except themselves. And certainly not to the public. This situation only exerbated the racial tensions of Civil Rights movement, but rather than declining as the years wore on, things grew worse at Parker's protege, Darryl Gates took command and continued to try to rule with Parker's Iron "Grip". After living in the city of Los Angeles most of my life, now many of the things I (and others) experienced with the LAPD, now make sense. A riveting book.
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