LEN looks at the latest in the literature of law enforcement
By Ellen Sexton, Review Editor
This annotated bibliography lists and describes books related to law enforcement and related topics, published mainly in 2003 and 2002, with a select few from earlier or later dates. Most deal directly with policing, criminology, crime or terrorism. A few others on related topics have been included as potentially interesting to law enforcement officers — e.g., Hanes and Sanello’s history of the Opium Wars. The descriptions have been written based on the books themselves — only in a few cases have books been included that were not actually examined by the literature review’s editor. The annotations for those were taken from reviews or publishers’ descriptions.
An attempt has been made to include the works published within the last two years which appear to be either particularly significant in criminal justice, or specifically oriented to police officers, and were not included in the previous literature supplement, published in the spring of 2002. Textbooks and subsequent editions of previously published works have generally been avoided, except in a few cases where the subject matter or its treatment has been considered worthy of attention. However, this is by no means a comprehensive and all-inclusive list. If a work that is important to you is not included here, this is not a value judgment, but may be chalked up to a lack of attentiveness accompanied by a great deal of subjectivity on the part of this reviewer.
A substantial portion of the literature of criminal justice is now available on the Web. Federal agencies, including the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, are improving access to their documents by posting them on the Web. These materials are not being considered here, although one new series focusing on common problems is worth a brief mention. This is the “Problem Oriented Guides for Police” series, which can be found at www.popcenter.org/problems.htm. Topics of recent guides include ATM robberies, assaults near bars, thefts from cars, panhandling, rave parties and more.
Every year, many books on criminal justice themes are published. Over the last two years, some topics appear to have been particularly popular among publishers — notably terrorism, community policing, and crime rates. Terrorism seems to have spawned an entire publishing subindustry of its own. In addition, many publishers appear to have considered it essential to add a chapter on terrorism to most books published since Sept. 11, 2001, almost regardless of the core subject matter. Merely listing all the terrorism books published would take up many pages, and many have been widely reviewed in the popular press. The few that have been chosen seemed particularly worthy of note, and/or may not have received much attention elsewhere. Works on the debate on civil liberties and counterterrorism legislation and strategies are included, as are works relating to the law enforcement response.
Crime data, crime rate changes and their causes continue to get attention. Mosher’s “Mismeasure of Crime” examines the collection, presentation and interpretation of crime data. One of the most dramatic crime drops occurred in New York City during the 1990s. It is examined in Conklin’s “Why Crime Rates Fell,” while in “Security,” former New York police commissioner Howard Safir writes about the NYPD under his direction in the latter half of the 1990s. Chon’s “Relationship between National Homicide Rates and Medical Care” adds another perspective to the crime rate debate, by examining data for improvements in attempted-homicide survivor rates.
The community policing literature continues to evolve. In addition to advocating community policing as an answer to our crime problems, some authors are now examining specific programs more critically, and assessing their relevance to other situations and locations. The concept of community policing itself is being examined, along with community responsiveness in relation to broader sociopolitical issues, notably in Hughes and Edwards’s “Crime Control and Community.” A more controversial topic is addressed by additions to the vigorous debate on profiling, and particularly racial profiling — MacDonald’s “Are Cops Racist?” and Heumann and Cassak’s “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” O’Reilly takes a look at the relevant labor-management issues for police departments in “Police Traffic Stops and Racial Profiling.”
Many of the works identified here look at policy debates and theoretical aspects of law enforcement. Attention to the more practical aspects of police work is given in Lo’s “Police Kung Fu,” Jones’s “Police Officers Guide to Operating and Surviving on Low Light and No Light Conditions,” and Siljander and Frederickson’s “Fundamentals of Physical Surveillance.” Management and administration issues have been addressed by Van Meter’s “Evaluating Dysfunctional Police Performance” and Anderson et al’s “Every Officer is a Leader.” A significant addition to the forensic literature is Caddy’s “Forensic Examination of Glass and Paint.”
Crime theories, old and new, continue to be expounded and explored in print. Renzetti’s collection, “Theories of Crime,” is a nice compilation of previously published articles illustrating a broad spectrum of crime theories, and a good introduction to the field. Two other collections focus on the more radical theories — “Controversies in Critical Criminology” and “Critical Criminology at the Edge.” Walsh’s “Biosocial Criminology” advocates that criminologists incorporate biological knowledge into their discipline.
Many of the books listed here are quite specialized, and readers may not find them easily by browsing at their local book store or library. Internet book services such as amazon.com may be the easiest way of acquiring them. As an alternative, the publisher may be contacted directly. The easiest way to get contact information about the publisher is on the Web — do a Google search for the publisher’s name, and more often than not, the right link will come up. For readers interested in borrowing rather than buying, your local library is a wonderful resource. While the book may not be on the shelf right now, do talk to the librarian. Most libraries provide an interlibrary loan service, which is either free or very low cost. All the librarian requires is the full citation for the book, then he or she can identify which library owns it, and borrow it from that library for you. ISBNs have been included to make identifying the book even easier — where there was a choice, the ISBN for the cheaper, paperback version is provided, rather than for the hardcover edition.
Ellen Sexton, an assistant professor and reference librarian at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is the author of numerous articles on criminal justice and librarianship, in both periodicals and major encyclopedias. Her latest article, on forensic psychology resources, appears in this summer’s issue of Reference Services Review.