400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman
“The author pulls no punches or keeps any secrets. 400 Things delves into topics not normally on most people’s minds, but at some point things they may have wondered about. . . . an intimate look at what really happens in police work.”
Adam Plantinga is a veteran police officer. As such, his new book 400 Things Cops Know is filled with advice and anecdotal information that cops, aspiring law enforcement officers, and the public will find fascinating and useful.
The book’s format is unusual: it’s broken down into sections and numbered lists. I found this technique lends itself to assisting the reader in easily navigating to the section of interest.
The author covers a plethora of topics: shots fired, use of force, tactics and hazards, car chases, juveniles, and much more. Certain to be of interest is the section about hookers and johns. “If a hooker asks you to expose yourself to prove you aren’t a cop, it is technically legal to do so,” says Plantinga, “but against most departmental policies. So keep your pants on. Actually, this is good advice for most social situations.” I concur; exposing one’s self is never good policy.
Some of the information Plantinga provides is comical, some is action-packed, and most are insightful. Non-law enforcement types will enjoy this insider’s look at the world of policing. The author pulls no punches or keeps any secrets. 400 Things delves into topics not normally on most people’s minds, but at some point things they may have wondered about.
For instance, we often see cops on TV or movies sticking their finger in suspected drugs to taste them (recall Miami Vice). Such practice is not only against department policy, but incredibly dangerous since the alleged drugs may contain foreign substances such as rat poison.
The book also demonstrates cops have a softer side to their often brusque demeanors. Plantinga recommends his fellow officers stop at children’s lemonade stands and to buy a cup. Or, if kids are out selling raffle tickets or Girl Scout Cookies, stop and buy some. Good public relations—things not taught in police academies.
400 Things, while quite interesting and entertaining, is part memoir, part manual. I can visualize those interested in a law enforcement career using this book for research. Another group that might find this book useful is crime novelists. Writers will find the contents invaluable when fact checking their police procedures.
Of particular interest is today’s crime de jour—domestic violence. The author has a section devoted to this seemingly exploding phenomenon. One thing that may surprise readers is that pets are sometimes victims of domestic violence, along with their owners. An enraged suspect will often take out his frustrations on the family dog or cat. Horrible stuff, but reality.
400 Things Cops Know is a quick read that gives readers a glimpse inside the minds of cops on the street. It’s an intimate look at what really happens in police work.