Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police force, has written a story like no other. Part memoir, part polemic, Stamper exposes the unvarnished truth — both disturbing and inspiring — about policing in America today.
Opening with a powerful letter to former Tacoma police chief David Brame, who shot his estranged wife before turning the gun on himself, Stamper introduces us to the violent, secret world of domestic abuse that cops must not only navigate, but which some also perpetrate. Stamper goes on to expose a troubling culture of racism, sexism, and homophobia that is still pervasive within the 21st century force, exploring how such prejudices can be addressed. He reveals the dangers and temptations that cops on the street face, describing in gripping detail their split second life-and-death decisions.
End the Drug War… Abolish the Death Penalty… Vanquish Domestic Violence… Make Schools and Neighborhoods Safe… Drive Bigotry and Brutality Out of the Criminal Justice System… Honor the Constitution… Build Respect for Cops…
“Justice is like a train that is nearly always late.”
Happening upon this quote by the Russian poet and filmmaker, I’m reminded of the vast numbers of long-dead Americans denied simple justice in their lifetimes.
The train arrived too late, for example, for millions of African Americans who for centuries were legally victimized by slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and economic and physical cruelty.
Resistance to basic legal reforms guarantees that many millions of Americans will go to their graves as victims of sanctioned injustice. The train is not even in sight for the half million non-violent drug offenders (disproportionately poor and of color) languishing in our prisons, the result of a fatally flawed belief that prohibition works, or can somehow be made to work. Research and the experience of many other nations demonstrate how the regulated legalization of all drugs would make our neighborhoods, and our citizens, safer and healthier.
The U.S., with less than five percent of the world’s population, is home to 25 percent of its prisoners, a whopping 2.3 million people. Some offenders belong in prison, many do not. We pay dearly for a vindictive system that often serves to make matters so much worse.
In only 17 states (plus the District of Columbia) is the barbaric, fruitless practice of human execution outlawed. The “Innocence Projects” around the country have freed over 200 wrongly convicted persons, many of them after having served 10 or 20 or more years in prison, some on death row. No one knows how many innocent people have been put to death in this country. The memory of even one should sear the conscience of the American people, and force our lawmakers to end the death penalty.
Guns in the hands of people who should never touch a firearm ensure unsafe streets, homes, campuses, and workplaces across the land, with the continuing threat of the slaughter of innocent children.
Violence in the home denies basic security and emotional wellbeing for millions of people, most of them women, many of them children. Being brutalized, terrorized, forced to live in fear of a “loved one” is an abject form of injustice.