Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Breaking Rank" A Book Review

If you mention Norm Stamper around anyone who has lived in the Seattle area during the 90s, you are bound to get at least one of a variety of opinions.
To the Conservatives--he was the mop top, granny glasses wearing New Age touchy feely ex Seattle Police Chief, who probably read Karl Marx while strumming "Kumbahyah" on his acoustical guitar.
To some political activist, he was a leaders of a group of Jack Booted Thugs that tried to abridge free speech with a "No Protest Zone" and violent arrests during the WTO demonstrations of 1999.
To most of the Seattle establishment, he was an innovative police chief, friend and appointee of former Mayor Norm Rice, who along with the late Seattle School superintendent John Stanford help make this area cutting edge during the go go '90s.
Norm Stamper's book Breaking Rank, is an interesting look at his career, both as a San Diego police officer, in which he rose through the ranks to be police captain on to his appointment and term as the chief of Seattle police.
Stamper writes a tough critique on police and their ability to handle certain situations as well as racism and corruption alleged in many departments. He present many new ideas, some as radical as decriminalization of all narcotics. Norm sees a difference between decriminalizing and legalizing drugs. I fail to see it.
The book has been controversial, with many officers believing that Stamper is a turncoat by mentioning the unmentionable. However the Oscar winning movie Crash presented situations simular to those outlined in the book. I don't think can agree with all of the ideas and reforms that Norm presents, but he does provide a forum from which we can all decide what can be done to keep the police, as protectors of the peace. Posted by Picasa

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