***400 Things Cops Know

police, neighborhood

(photo: en.wikipedia)

By Adam Plantinga – If you write (or read or watch) crime stories, you’ll be fascinated by the detailed insights from a veteran Milwaukee and San Francisco patrolman (now police sergeant). The Wall Street Journal called the book “the new Bible for crime writers.” And, if you  wonder about how crimes are managed in the community, you’ll definitely gain some insights.

Plantinga, who is a Phi Beta Kappa magna cum laude graduate of Marquette University, divided his 400 lessons into 19 chapters on “Things Cops Know About . . .” shots fired, juveniles, booze and drugs, domestic violence, and so on. Each chapter is not only a dive into specifics, but as important, together—with candor and humor—they provide an unfiltered view into the thought processes of the cops called out to deal with some of society’s worst and most intractable problems, deaths in circumstances that most of us never have to contemplate, much less confront, and the possibility of violence at every traffic stop. The endemic cynicism he reports arises from constant exposure to people behaving badly, as well as the internal machinations of many police departments.

In the chapter on shots fired, I was surprised to learn how hard it is to find bullets after they’re fired (unless they’re in somebody), in part because “most handguns have ranges exceeding a mile.” Of course, before a bullet can go that far, it generally hits a tree or a house or something. And most criminals aren’t very good shots, Plantinga says. But, as a responding officer, you can’t count on that.

I saw a movie about a hit-and-run accident over the weekend, and thanks to reading this book, I tried to telepathically help the on-screen investigator: “Look for prints on the rearview mirror!” Thanks, Sergeant Plantinga.