Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing

Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing

by Norm Stamper


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Norm Stamper, formerly chief of the Seattle Police Force and deputy chief of the San Diego Police Department, has written a story unlike any other. Part memoir, part polemic on the state of policing in America, Breaking Rank melds progressive politics with hard-boiled reportage in the tradition of Charles Bukowski and Elmore Leonard.

With provocatively titled chapters like “Why White Cops Kill Black Men” and “Sexual Predators in Uniform,” Stamper reveals a force that can be racist, corrupt, overly militaristic, and chauvinist, yet is also made up of brave and good men and women. He reflects upon what it is like to kill a man, why drugs should be decriminalized, the correct approach to prostitution and gun control, and how the force should be trained for the future. Stamper’s prescriptions for change are both reasoned and challenging, but at no time does Breaking Rank become didactic— it is a riveting story told from the perspective of one of America's top cops on the street.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781560256939
Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2005
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.34(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Norm Stamper began his law enforcement career in San Diego in 1966 as a beat cop. In 1994, he was named chief of the Seattle Police Department, where he set about implementing many of the initiatives he writes about in Breaking Rank. Retiring in 2000, he now lives in a cabin on a mountain in the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

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Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is enlightening. Stamper provides a thoughtful critique of policing, complete with plenty of interesting first-hand experiences that illustrate how much personal discretion is necessary. His breadth of experience, from beat cop to chief, establish his authority, but what makes this book truly credible is his openness in admitting his own mistakes and changes in outlook. Such dynamic thought appears to be rare in a profession so rooted to tradition and clear-cut operating principles. He covers a lot of philosophical ground in 400 pages: domestic violence, victimless crime, drug policy, racism, legal issues, undercover work, corruption, and terrorism. One of the most interesting sections described a set of nine real events that demonstrate ambiguity and the need for careful human judgment. He made me rethink capital punishment, on principle alone, and for the practical reason that wrong convictions might be more common than we realize. He didn't sway me toward gun control. Though sad, the imbalance of statistics he chose was probably driven by a lifetime of exposure similarly weighted in appreciation for the downside.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes when getting this book. It's long been known that police departments across the country do need reform to varying degrees. However, Breaking Rank, came across as nothing more then a rant that wasn't backed up with much substance. I felt points were not well made. Stamper didn't make a good case for many of his views. There simply wasn't the facts, or research, or case, for why he supported or didn't a particular process or belief etc. Frankly, I don't think he writes well. It's unfortunate as I do think if he could articulate well what his experiences have taught him, he would have an interesting story to tell. If he was a better writer, he would have had a better chance at effective change. Consequently, he did nothing for the area of reform which is needed in many police department policies. He may have in fact harmed things to a worse degree by not effectively making his case.