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What Cops Know Mass Market Paperback – 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fletcher asks 125 Chicago cops about working on the street; crimes involving violence, property, sex and narcotics; and organized crime. "The police officers are forthright, the narrative seamless," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author, who teaches journalism at Loyola University of Chicago, interviewed 125 of that city's police officers to discover what their job is like both technically (how they deal with crime and criminals) and emotionally (how it affects them). Roughly 900 excerpts are grouped by topic, ranging from property crimes to organized crime. Excerpts are unsigned, but each section concludes with brief biographies of those quoted. This first-person, humorous, shocking, and at times sensational material effectively brings the reader inside police life, particularly in the chapters on "The Street" and "Narcotics." Loose organization and lack of scientific method limit the book's usefulness for criminal justice students--Anthony V. Bouza 's The Police Mystique ( LJ 4/1/90) provides a more thoughtful description and critique of police and the criminal justice system--but for the general reader it both satisfies curiosity and offers insight.
- Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671750402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671750404
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Connie Fletcher picked the right approach in tackling this subject; like Nicholas Pileggi's Wise Guy: Life in a Mafia Family, What Cops Know is told almost entirely in the subjects' own words, giving it an immediacy and buoyancy that can be mesmerizing. As one police officer stated, they have to develop a sense of humour about what they do. So their toughness, their panache for strange parlance and anecdotes, and their occasional bursts of machismo are delivered first-generation, Fletcher having the good sense to hold back on her editorial comments (something a writer like Colin Wilson overindulges in, making his books extremely moralistic) and just let her subjects tell their stories.
The book started off slowly (the foreword explaining the approach, though useful, was cut-and-dry stuff, though certainly useful), but after getting through the first section, I plowed through 200 pages in one sitting. Some of the stories are plain hilarious; some disturbing and sombre; some made me downright sick to my stomach. The child-molestation section was harrowing; I'm usually very objective in my approach to reading, but the story of the mother "selling" her six-year-old child to strangers gut-punched me.
Reading through this book, you begin to understand that the police have one of the most strenuous, underappreciated, and potentially corrupting jobs in Western society.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This compilation of interviews in the words of genuine Chicago cops was put together by the sister of one, which gave her an entree into the "closed society" of law enforcement. Most of the officers she spoke with "work or have worked" in the city's Area Six, which encompasses everything from the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects to the glittering upscale Gold Coast along the lakeshore. Yet crime is a constant, as it has been ever since human beings began to develop a society more complex than that of the cave-based clan. These officers have seen it all, and their cynicism is evident, yet the knowledge they've gained is broad and fascinating. Have you ever wondered how the Mafia (called in Chicago "the Outfit") is organized? Whether there are still any old-fashioned professional burglars? How a sex criminal or a serial killer thinks? These cops know, and they tell all. They are, of course, cynics, and the closing prediction of one Mob "expert" on where organized crime is probably heading seems to have been proved wrong; but altogether the book is an invaluable resource for mystery writers, social scientists, and police groupies. (Also read the author's "Pure Cop.")
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book before I became a Chicago cop. I felt like an outsider looking in and was curious as to how true the book was. I can tell you that this author knows what she is talking about. Working the streets of the southside, seeing murder, child abuse, prostitution, drugs, addicts etc... I can say without a doubt there is truth to the words in this book. There is truth to the after-effects cops can have from becoming part of this world, the drinking, the crying, the sleepless nights and the eventual hardening of the heart and beoming apathetic. This is a must read for anyone getting on the job. Read it and make sure you know what you are getting into. This is the best job in the world, but being prepared on how to deal with the pitfalls of it is essential.
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By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is the result of 125 Chicago policemen sitting down with Prof. Connie Fletcher of Loyola University at Chicago. In order to give them the freedom to speak without fear of being transferred for political reasons, the names of the policemen interviewed are at the end of chapter, without identifying which policeman was responsible for each excerpt. This is NOT a book for the faint-hearted. It should transform the most hopeless pacifist into a gun owner, if there is any possibility at all. The chapter on home invasions, in particular, is terrifying in its descriptions of the sorts of sadistic brutality done to people inside their homes.
This is a book worth reading more for what it says about how Chicago police officers see the world, then for any sort of statistical evidence about crime. At times, in our anger at police as soldiers of an oppressive system, we tend to forget that the police get a very jaundiced view of humanity, because what they spend most of their time doing is cleaning up the pathological part of our society. This is a book for reminding us HOW they see the world, and hopefully, it can make us a little more understanding as to why certain attitudes are so common among big city police officers.
The least gruesome chapter was the one on organized crime, and contains some very worrisome statements that makes me suspect that there is more than a totalitarian political ideology or simple-minded idealism pushing gun control:
"With an Outfit murder, the car can be seen; it doesn't make any difference. If they felt like it, they could throw the firearm down next to the body and walk away. They have a source for weapons, an illegal source that provides them with weapons that can't be traced."[p.
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