Monday, December 2, 2013

*Uniform Decisions*

Uniform Decisions: My Life in the LAPD and the North Hollywood Shootout

I really enjoyed the personal anecdotes that make up much of this book.
Mr. Caprarelli tells us about what it was like to be training in the prestigious LAPD Police Academy, one of the most rigorous police training courses in America.
Then he takes us with him out onto the streets as a rookie cop, confronting the world of police work when it all was fresh and new.
Some of his rookie stories are light-hearted, and they made me laugh as I pictured his youthful exuberance and nervousness. One of my favorites was the time his veteran training officer tested him by saying "You drive," and then fell asleep in the passenger seat! John told himself "Well, I'm not asleep so we'll be Ok."
And I can imagine how worried he was when he backed the police car into a metal pole while parking at a diner for a meal break. He was convinced that probation + preventable accident = I'm fired.
The way his T.O handled that minor incident made me smile.

And some of the stories are tragic, the kind that show how a young cop's innocence is stripped away. These stories tell us about the difficult and often traumatic experiences that police officers have to confront.
There are stories of shocking crimes committed by very ordinary looking people, the kind that leave you overwhelmed as you wonder how a human being could do that.
There are stories about delivering death notifications, and how much that weighs on you to be the one who has to tell somebody their loved one is gone.

Mr. Caprarelli writes very humbly and very transparently about these experiences, giving us a window into his world.
"What you are not taught in manuals or shown in training videos is that sometimes it stays with you.
Sometimes the more traumatic events that you see or experience become a part of you, and get laser etched into your memory until your dying day."

And then there are his explanations about what makes it all worth while.
"I began to realize that enjoyment of the job was formed in a large part more by who your partner was than by what the job was...With a good partner, it was fun... Working with a seasoned partner was usually a smooth operation. We knew tactics, procedures, how to write reports, and we took care of each other. After a while you could practically read the other guy's mind."

And the last chapters of this book are a riveting account of the North Hollywood shootout itself.

This book gets a full recommend. If you know and love any police officers, then you need to read this book.  Everyone's career includes different experiences, but the heart of police work remains the same.

Thank you and Fred and Nora St. Laurent for my copy! 

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