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The Red Dot Club
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From Kirkus Reviews
In his nonfiction debut, Rangel, a Los Angeles-area police veteran, shines light on the many factors that go into a cop’s use of deadly force. What’s it like to have to shoot someone to defend oneself or others? The author combines his own firsthand experience with testimonies of other colleagues who found themselves embroiled in gun battles. While on duty in an unmarked car in the early 1990s, Rangel became the victim of an attempted carjacking as gang members opened fire on him and his partner. A shootout followed and Rangel was shot; he was later taken to the hospital in the same ambulance as his assailant. The incident made the author interested to hear about similar experiences from fellow members of the titular “Red Dot Club” of wounded officers. He relates the tale of Frank, a cop who had an off-duty encounter with some gangsters who shot him and his infant son in retaliation for a prior drug arrest Frank had made. In another story, Stacy Lim, a clean-cut Asian-American cop, had a gun battle with a young man after arriving in her own driveway; she managed to kill the shooter before passing out from her injuries. Another story tells of a robbery-in-progress in which perpetrators used assault rifles and hand grenades; eight deputies and highway patrolmen were wounded. Rangel’s voice is engaging and his discussion of physiological responses to life-threatening situations is fascinating… A vivid, gripping account of police fight or flight that highlights genuine heroism but fails to effectively address murkier issues. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
IR Verdict: THE RED DOT CLUB is an up-close view of what it takes to be a police officer. Gritty portraits of true courage under fire, THE RED DOT CLUB puts the reader on the street where cops and criminals shoot it out, where blood is red, and pain is excruciating. Robert Rangel…illustrates what happens when police meet villains with guns. He focuses on real cops; brief character sketches are followed by a skillfully woven account of a scenario in which the officer was shot in the course of trying to stop a crime… An unforgettable vignette is of an officer using his arm to shield the body of his little son, while simultaneously praying, driving, and being barraged by bullets, one of which penetrates the shielding arm. There are some thematic elements that unite the stories. First, an astonishing number of bullets can fly within only a few seconds. Second, bullet wounds don’t necessarily hurt while the officer is doing his or her duty; only later does the pain kick in — maybe a bone has been splintered, a joint dislocated, with little obvious bleeding, just that little “red dot.” Third, the punishment often does not fit the crime: “The suspect was a gang member. He received eight years. He was out in four, despite being convicted of attempted murder on a peace officer.” Written both as a paean to the heroic actions of America’s police in the course of their ordinary work day, and as an emotional tirade against those who would disarm the citizenry or go easy on crime, THE RED DOT CLUB employs docu-drama realism. There is no sense of embellishment – “just the facts” – and if at times the punctuation suffers, that deficit will be compensated by the raw truth of the stories. It is not surprising that their experiences, their personal injuries and the low sentences handed out to their attackers have made Rangel and his fellow peace officers feel bitter at times, though that theme gets hammered a bit too hard at times. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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