Handcuffed by Malcolm Sparrow

Handcuffed: What Holds Policing Back, and the Keys to ReformHandcuffed: What Holds Policing Back, and the Keys to Reform by Malcolm K. Sparrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As mentioned by another reviewer, this book is aimed at police managers, not the general public. The author has a point of view worth considering. He backs it up with a lot of solid data, too. I’m a retired FBI agent, and the FBI mission is quite different from that of police departments, but I have some familiarity with the issues dealt with in the book since I’ve worked with police many times and also investigated them in civil rights cases.

I did not know until this book that the Ferguson, MO police department’s main mission was revenue generation and that contributed heavily to the problems that led to the riots. That’s one of several interesting facts set forth in the book, but there is also a great deal of repetition and empty bureaucratic jargon that tells you what not to do without really providing a clear method for stopping those behaviors. It reminded me of those excruciating lessons the California bar requires of lawyers every three years on substance abuse and sexual harassment. I wrote a scene spoofing those in one of my books. You’re going to find bad cops (and bad managers and bad FBI agents) in every large department. They’re the exception, though. You just have to weed them out either during recruitment and training, or, unfortunately, after a bad incident happens. I don’t think the author has provided a clear path to avoid them altogether. He has provided some good food for thought, though, and the book may be useful to some police officials.

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