Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City

Penguin Pr. Feb. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780525557852. $28. CRIME
Law professor and journalist Brooks shocked her colleagues and her family when she decided to become a reserve officer within Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), but she knew it was the only way to understand the incredibly complicated issue of police violence. Working part-time as a patrol officer in the poorest district in DC, the author observed firsthand that, in the absence of neighborhood social services, the police became the default solution to many community problems. Her sorrow, empathy, and frustration are evident as she describes routine police calls where she and her partners tried to mediate family disputes, serving not only as law enforcers but also as default social workers. Brooks’s legal background led her to propose and create a program within MPD that gave space and resources to officers to explore the causes of racism, poverty, and hopelessness, rather than simply focusing on what was in front of them.
VERDICT Blending memoir with sharp commentary on social justice issues, Brooks’s empathetic work is ideal for readers curious about policing and police reform in the United States.
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