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Vice: One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City Hardcover – January 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312596871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312596873
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born and raised in Compton, the city in L.A. county notoriously home to the Bloods and Crips gangs, Baker traces both the history of the city and his own rise from rookie to detective in his gritty memoir. Co-written with screenwriter Rivele (Nixon), Baker, born in 1942, describes growing up the son of a white father and Mexican mother, learning early on how to sidestep racial boundaries--yet never walking away from a fight. He joins the Compton Police Department in 1968 after earning a sociology degree and serving in the Marine Corps, hoping to fulfill his need for adventure and serve his town. Baker recounts the racial shift in Compton beginning in the late 1950s as "white flight" began and the area became predominantly black, though by the TKTKs Hispanics became the majority--and the rise of brutal gang violence. Along with his fellow officers, Baker was more often than not outnumbered on the streets by criminals, but describes a police force dedicated to protecting the community, even if that means doling out some unorthodox, Compton-style justice. (Jan.)
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Review

“Harrowing…thrilling…in-your-face violence and resilient heroism that leap off the page.” –Kirkus Reviews

"A candid and unapologetic glimpse into a lawman's life. Grim, exhilarating, heroic … with a dash of history thrown in for good measure." --Lt. Randy Sutton, author of True Blue and A Cop's Life

“Some of the best cop stories you'll ever read—[I] promise. Rick Baker's Compton makes the South Bronx look like [summer] camp.”
--Brian McDonald, author of My Father's Gun: One Family, Three Badges, One Hundred Years in the NYPD

"Compton, California, in the 1970s and 80s was like the Wild West, and Rick Baker was perhaps the Compton Police Department's bravest and most honorable officer. His book, Vice, is a nonstop thrilling saga of how this small but determined police force kept order in a tough town."

--Leonard Levitt, author of NYPD Confidential

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Additionally, the officers in Compton Police Department had a very good bond with each other.
Henry Bud Johnson
This book is an amazing story that is completely engaging from the very first page and keeps you enthralled in the author's journey all the way to the very end!
Brandon Schafer
I will be rereading this book again and would recommend it to any of my friends who like to read.
Connie Costley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kenneth baratta on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading this book, I can, without reservation acknowledge that the information Sgt Baker writes about is correct.
I will say that when he speaks of the 130 police Officers protecting the City of Compton, he should have clarified that of the 130 officers in Compton, it included Detectives, Traffic Division, Narco, supervision that did not work patrol.
Many a time there were only 4 officers during day shift and perhaps 8 officers on the AM shift. There were times that the Field Sgt had to backup single officers.
A fantastic book that is not fiction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RTH on July 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book, but the cover and title are misleading.

At first glance this book looks like a SWAT story, full of assault tactics and hostage negotiations. Not so much.

The book revolves around one guy, Rick Baker, who grows up in Compton in the 1950's and ends up joining the CPD to give back to his community and help his neighbors. This book is about his long career as a Compton cop.

When reading this book you will say to yourself, "this should be a movie." By the end of the book you will say to yourself, "this could be two or three movies." The stories come boom, boom, boom. One right after another. They jump around chronologically, but the storyline holds together.

Historically, Compton was the jewel of California after WWII. The city was a small, western town with a population that was almost 95% white. Predominantly Mormon and Jewish. Good schools, nice shopping, a small town just SE of Los Angeles. Everything changed after 1965.

The assassination of JFK, the Great Society of LBJ, the Watts riots. Compton followed the same path as Detroit. The Great White Flight occurred and the rest is history. History to you and me. For the CPD it was a rapid process that saw tremendous change in a very short time. This quickly resulted in an almost all-white police force protecting a city that was majority black and Latino.

The once placid city was quickly engulfed by gangs, drugs, guns and a crime wave that made Compton the recognized "Most Dangerous City in America."

This book is more than a blow-by-blow of Compton's descent into darkness. It is a real history book. I especially liked the way that the "Compton Style" of police work was depicted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Cowell on January 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not much of a reader, I got this book because I grew up in Compton . I started and could not put it down . I laughed cried but most of all I learned how a safe middle class city turned into the most dangerous city in the USA.Thanks Rick for taking to write this book Dan Cowell
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William L. Gale on January 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
I give this book a 5 star rating as it brings back memories of when I lived in compton. I think anyone who lived in Compton and read this book would agree.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Fakehany on September 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to hear how it feels to work every day in a dangerous line of work. It helps you understand the special person it takes to do this. He brings out the history of Compton as the population and crimes as well as politics changed through the years He is brutally honest and descriptive in telling his story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By FTO on July 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good cop tells an honest, realistic, raw story of his life as a Compton cop. Sad tale tells the truth about how police were sold out. Can tell the author did not try put a spin on the facts, he just told it like was.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Brown on September 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid reader with a stubborn disinterest to read any books regarding crime, I rushed to purchase "Vice" due to my kindred relationship (first cousin) with the author, Sgt. John Richard Baker. "Vice" gently flows from Mr. Baker's family history, gathering momentum to explain the changes, both ethnically and socio-economically, of the Compton area, and then accelerates at full speed, crashing to explosions of intense human interactions. This reading adventure opened my eyes, thrusting me into awareness of naked facts of a brutal world I never knew existed - a world where all hell consistently erupted between good and evil and the bizarre mixture of each. The policemen and undercover agents at the CPD faced dangers which could swiftly cause their untimely deaths while working both under the surface and in full view with the intent to protect citizens from harm. It is rare when a book draws one so deeply that whirlwinds of emotions emerge and the reader becomes one with the book. While immersed in this book, my body, mind and soul were on edge. I was in a cocoon, oblivious of everything around me, focused on the written page; my social life declined and my fingernails are bit to the quick! I felt I was walking in the shoes of my cousin, could see what he saw, feel what he felt, imagine what he was thinking while ­­he fought the brave fight. I was a willing participant in a story about crime and humanity! If you are searching for a book you can't put down, one you never want to end, one that becomes part of you, I highly recommend "Vice".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Farhang on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first, I was discouraged from purchasing this book due to the title being "Vice". Vice is the name usually given to a police unit that investigates certain crimes (narcotics purchases, prostitution solicitation, etc) through undercover operations, and that type of policing didn't necessarily interest me. However, the vast majority of the book is about John "Rick" Baker's experiences working Patrol and dealing with street crime; the title misled me to believe otherwise. I'm glad I made the purchase, and feel compelled to write my first Amazon review because of how great and informative the book was.

This book provides rich insight into the history and dynamics of Compton's police department, the city's criminal element, politics, demographics, and other aspects from the late 1960's to the mid 80's through Rick Baker's experiences as an officer with the Compton Police Department. It provides a unique and thorough perspective into the city of Compton, rather than the one-dimensional stigma of the city as a high-crime area that has been prevalent in culture. Rick Baker's narrative of his experiences, observations, and introspection amidst his police career provide for a very entertaining and exciting read that shows how bad crime was in the city, and the unique methods that the Compton Police Department implemented in dealing with it amidst an insufficient amount of resources and an often unfavorable political environment.

I finished the book today, and as a prospective police officer in an urban area, I feel honored to have been able to learn the history of the Compton Police Department. I feel that this book would be an important one to read for prospective police officers in large cities for a variety of reasons, but namely because it shows how politics can affect police departments, and it provides a historical context of the formation and transformation of gangs, and just how bad crime used to be.
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