Book Review: The Memoir of a Compton, CA Police Officer

Vice: One Cop’s Story of Patrolling America’s Most Dangerous City by Sgt. John R. Baker

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is a nonfiction book that reads like a novel. The action starts at the beginning with a brief history of Compton, California and how it’s gangs got started, and doesn’t end until the last page. Sgt. “Rick” Baker tells the story of how the Compton Police Department fought to protect and serve their city in a time of gang wars, and how they fought against the city council and the city’s many mayors to get the support they needed to do their job.

These police officers were known to use forces other than their guns to bring criminals down. While the LAPD would shoot first and ask questions later, the Compton PD would handle cases in an entirely different manner seeing as they’d grown up with the criminals they were now fighting. Everyone knew everyone, and the criminals, though they worked against the law, respected the cops enough to call for help when an officer was down.

Does it matter whether the general public knows what the Compton cops did? Does it matter whether we know how hard they fought to keep themselves going when things weren’t looking so good? They were only 130 officers strong while they were outnumbered with 10,000 criminals. In the end one of those officers said it didn’t matter, because THEY knew what they’d done. But Sgt. Rick Baker knew the public needed to know the truth, and so he gave us Vice.

This is a book I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a good nonfiction read, a memior, and the history of many of our most prominant gangs as well as the history of the city itself. Check it out TODAY!