Synopses & Reviews
A radical inside examination of policing in modern America, from a Georgetown University law professor turned reserve police officer
In her forties, with two children, a spouse, a dog, a mortgage, and a full-time job as a tenured law professor at Georgetown, Rosa Brooks decided to become a cop. An academic with an enduring interest in law's troubled relationship with violence, Brooks was discouraged by the statistics on police shootings and racial disparities in the criminal justice system; she wanted an insider experience that would enable her to become an advocate for change. But legitimate reasons aside, Brooks knew there was something bigger guiding her decision - She was restless, tired of faculty meetings, and looking for a challenge. And so, she applied to become a Reserve Police Officer with the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and prepared to go through the same police academy training as the city's career officers, take the same oath, wear the same uniform and badge, carry the same gun, and patrol the same streets - but, as a volunteer.
No one thought this was a good idea - not her husband, who had spent more than two decades in the military, or her mother, writer and left-wing activist Barbara Ehrenreich, who distrusted the police. And in 2015, when Brooks first applied, police violence was constantly in the news: there were stories about cruel and corrupt cops, about excessive force, and the staggering number of Americans - a disproportionate number of whom are young, black, and male - being killed by the police. Lines were being drawn and people were taking sides, but, as Brooks found, as she made her way through field training and patrolling, the reality is even more complex that we originally thought.
In TANGLED UP IN BLUE, Brooks recounts the 18 months she spent as a police office in one of the most crime-ridden parts of the nation's capital. Drawing on these singular experiences, from target practice at the academy and encounters with career officers, from MPD crime reports and her own notes - official and unofficial - as she patrolled some of the poorest sections of the city, Brooks presents a revelatory look about what it was like for her, a white, well-educated, woman, to infiltrate the police force. Acknowledging the divided attitudes towards the police - racist bullies to some, undervalued heroes to other - Brooks illuminates why this might be, and at the same time investigates the need for new legal and institutional safeguards in a nation increasingly divided by race, class, ethnicity, and ideology. An explosive and groundbreaking investigation, TANGLED UP IN BLUE complicates matters rather than simplifies them, and gives pause to those who think police can do no wrong and those who think they can do no right.
Journalist and law professor Rosa Brooks goes beyond the blue wall of silence in this radical inside examination of American policing
In her forties, with two children, a spouse, a dog, a mortgage, and a full-time job as a tenured law professor at Georgetown University, Rosa Brooks decided to become a cop. A liberal academic and journalist with an enduring interest in law's troubled relationship with violence, Brooks wanted the kind of insider experience that would help her understand how police officers make sense of their world--and whether that world can be changed. In 2015, against the advice of everyone she knew, she applied to become a sworn, armed reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department.
Then as now, police violence was constantly in the news. The Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, protests wracked America's cities, and each day brought more stories of cruel, corrupt cops, police violence, and the racial disparities that mar our criminal justice system. Lines were being drawn, and people were taking sides. But as Brooks made her way through the police academy and began work as a patrol officer in the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods of the nation's capital, she found a reality far more complex than the headlines suggested.
In Tangled Up in Blue, Brooks recounts her experiences inside the usually closed world of policing. From street shootings and domestic violence calls to the behind-the-scenes police work during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential inauguration, Brooks presents a revelatory account of what it's like inside the blue wall of silence. She issues an urgent call for new laws and institutions, and argues that in a nation increasingly divided by race, class, ethnicity, geography, and ideology, a truly transformative approach to policing requires us to move beyond sound bites, slogans, and stereotypes. An explosive and groundbreaking investigation, Tangled Up in Blue complicates matters rather than simplifies them, and gives pause both to those who think police can do no wrong--and those who think they can do no right.