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About the Author
Norm Stamper began his law enforcement career in San Diego in 1966 as a beat cop. In 1994, he was named chief of the Seattle Police Department, where he set about implementing many of the initiatives he writes about in Breaking Rank. Retiring in 2000, he now lives in a cabin on a mountain in the San Juan Islands in Washington State.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is enlightening. Stamper provides a thoughtful critique of policing, complete with plenty of interesting first-hand experiences that illustrate how much personal discretion is necessary. His breadth of experience, from beat cop to chief, establish his authority, but what makes this book truly credible is his openness in admitting his own mistakes and changes in outlook. Such dynamic thought appears to be rare in a profession so rooted to tradition and clear-cut operating principles. He covers a lot of philosophical ground in 400 pages: domestic violence, victimless crime, drug policy, racism, legal issues, undercover work, corruption, and terrorism. One of the most interesting sections described a set of nine real events that demonstrate ambiguity and the need for careful human judgment. He made me rethink capital punishment, on principle alone, and for the practical reason that wrong convictions might be more common than we realize. He didn't sway me toward gun control. Though sad, the imbalance of statistics he chose was probably driven by a lifetime of exposure similarly weighted in appreciation for the downside.
I had high hopes when getting this book. It's long been known that police departments across the country do need reform to varying degrees. However, Breaking Rank, came across as nothing more then a rant that wasn't backed up with much substance. I felt points were not well made. Stamper didn't make a good case for many of his views. There simply wasn't the facts, or research, or case, for why he supported or didn't a particular process or belief etc. Frankly, I don't think he writes well. It's unfortunate as I do think if he could articulate well what his experiences have taught him, he would have an interesting story to tell. If he was a better writer, he would have had a better chance at effective change. Consequently, he did nothing for the area of reform which is needed in many police department policies. He may have in fact harmed things to a worse degree by not effectively making his case.