The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Fred Reed's Cop Columns

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Riding Where Things Never Seem To Get Better
Chicago--I was riding with a friend I'll call Jim, since technically I wasn't supposed to be there, in a run-down section that was mostly welfare. It was maybe two in the afternoon. The buildings were old, tired, of three or four stories and crumbling. Men sat on stoops, alone or in small groups, doing nothing.... Read More
America Doesn't Lead The World In Everything
Okinawa--Perspective both geographic and temporal leave one wondering just where American society is going. I came here to research a magazine piece on tunnel warfare, but was, not unexpectedly, struck by the different tenor of life. We in the United States pride ourselves on having the best country in the world. In many ways we... Read More
A Backdrop To The City
A recurring problem for the police, though not a critical problem, are the homeless, as we now call derelicts and the mad people of the city. They form a backdrop to a cop's world in parts of the cities-always there, often a nuisance, more a danger to themselves than to others. Society refuses to do... Read More
Not A Big Deal
A question that continues to get very quiet discussion in police departments is whether women belong in the police and, if so, in what jobs. A few thoughts: To begin, the integration of women has not proved a disaster, or anything resembling one. It isn't a huge deal. Mostly it has worked. A little perspective... Read More
The Joys Of Being A Cop
Let's see. The Puerto Rican celebration in New York turned into turned into a rape fest, and the police were denounced for not stopping it. In Philadelphia, a black shot at cops, the cops thumped him, and the NAACP sued. The rules are fairly clear by now. If white cops do anything to misbehaving minorities,... Read More
Another Approach That Won't Work
Recently I was talking to a friend with many decades of experience in several areas of law enforcement. It wasn't an interview, just two guys chewing the fat. The subject of drugs came up, and of what to do about them. His solution, which he regarded as the least of several evils, was to build... Read More
The Things You Find In Malls
OK, the kid was sitting on a concrete bench or something in the shopping center as Officers Rick Rodriguez and Sean Carrig pulled into the shopping center in Arlington. (For fairly good reasons, some of this is going to be vague.) The kid's head was down and he was crying. The cops got out to... Read More
And How They Do Work
A few days back I was talking to a cop I know about how little relation practical law enforcement often has to theory. For example, we do not have trial by jury but, in almost all criminal cases, trial by plea bargaining. Juries often do not consist of twelve men good and true but often... Read More
Views Of A Low-Down Magistrate In The Basement Of The Jail
Occasionally a cop book comes along that's just plain fun.Lies, Damned Lies, and Testimony isn't one of them. It's a magistrate book that's just plain fun. The author, John Jasper, answered an ad appearing somewhere in Virginia and asking for a magistrate. He got the job. As Jasper describes it, a magistrate's view of life... Read More
Things Could Be Better
Cops, I've noticed over the years, have a real problem with public relations. They manage to rub people the wrong way. An awful lot of people tell angry tales about this or that misbehavior by police, most of which isn't really misbehavior. Rather it's dealing badly with the citizenry. I think a lot of them... Read More
Slow Night In Alexandria
Friday night in Alexandria. I was riding with Officer Claire Burton in search of nuclear terrorists. I'm always in search of nuclear terrorists. They're good copy. Or would be if I could find them. Anyway, Burton is a young, attractive woman, on the petite side, good company, a year and a half on the force,... Read More
Fortified Wine, Vienna Sausages, And Liver Death
It was somewhere on Capitol Hill, early in my career as a police writer. I forget who I was walking with, but it was a DC foot cop on an afternoon beat. We were on a block of what had been nice houses, and still would have been with a lot of rehab. We came... Read More
Having written this column for many years now, I find myself wondering at times, "Whence?" and "Whither?" and "Wherefore?" and "To what end?" What have I gotten out of it, and what, if anything, have the readers gotten? Sure, I'm making a buck, which we all have to. But there's more to it than that.... Read More
Maybe We Ought To Give Them Clear Instructions
I get a fair amount of email from cops around the country, and some of it is minorly (that may not be a word) disturbing. A half-dozen letters on a subject don't constitute a tidal wave or a survey. Still, a few thoughts on the subject: The police increasingly feel themselves to be under heavy... Read More
A Dime-A-Dozen Domestic Call
I missed the triple shooting in the afternoon, of course. I always miss anything big in 4-D. It may just be a scheduling problem, but I suspect it's a conspiracy by the police. When they find out I'm coming, word goes out on the street: "Fred's on the way. Yeah, that weird guy from the... Read More
Bad Section Of Chicago
Some things stick in your mind. A bit over a year ago I was in Chicago, riding downtown. I wasn't supposed to be there, the ride having been arranged through friends without going through the public affairs office, so I didn't write about it at the time. The cop, who I'll call John, has left... Read More
'Nother Day At The Office
A while back back I was riding in 4-D, headquartered at 6001 Georgia Avenue and then a fairly new part of the city for me. The region is almost entirely black, and has everything from pretty tree-lined streets of nice old frame houses to ugly projects. It was about seven in the evening and still... Read More
Cops, Kids, And Exercising Hormones
I confess I missed the great Washington IMF/WTO riots, having been called away by matters more urgent than another set of teenagers exercising their hormones. Maybe I've been derelict. I gather that the city still stands, so maybe the teenagers also were derelict. By word of mouth, I've heard reports running from a view that... Read More
Birthing The Nanny State
I confess I missed the great Washington IMF/WTO riots, having been called away by matters more urgent than another set of teenagers exercising their hormones. Maybe I've been derelict. I gather that the city still stands, so maybe the teenagers also were derelict. By word of mouth, I've heard reports running from a view that... Read More
So Stop Trying
The police are in a tough spot. They seem to be constantly under the guns of political correctness. The papers carry an unending stream of stories alleging discriminatory misconduct. A few of these stories are true. Most aren't. Usually, though, it doesn't matter: The media show very little interest in finding out whether the cops... Read More
The Police As Mother
We will have soon have more computerized red-light runner-watchers, it seems. I mean those automatic cameras that take a picture of your license plate when you go through an intersection without stopping. Police departments say they work, sometimes amazingly well. Violations drop from thousands to hundreds. So cops and local governments want to put in... Read More
Pretty It Ain't
Chris Feltman man told me the other night about the guy who cooked himself. We were riding in Arlington, around Crystal City, waiting for something to happen and telling war stories. The guy was a drunk, one of the regulars. Every jurisdiction has some of them. They get up in the morning and start drinking.... Read More
Give Me A Break
The National Rifle Association held a large meeting in Rosslyn this weekend and, being a member, I went for part of it. Any time I go near the NRA, I'm struck by one fact: These folk are, from a crime writer's point of view, the most deadeningly dull, boring, unproductive people on earth. As individuals... Read More
It's Possible, Just Not Easy
Langley Park ain't what it used to be. It's barely what it still is. According to everyone on the PG force, Langley used to be one of the county's major open-air drug markets. It had shootings, dead people, chases, all that stuff. Now, as far as I can tell, it's a police parking lot. I... Read More
Inventing Racial Motives
Regarding the shooting of Amadou Diallo: Presumably everyone on earth knows that the guy, black, was shot 19 times bywhite cops in New York who said they thought a wallet he reached for was agun. If you didn't know, I admire your restraint in subjecting yourself tothe media. The cops were just acquitted by a... Read More
It's More Complicated Than You Might Think
People sometimes are surprised when a news show says that inmates at this or that prisons have been using drugs. How do you get drugs in a prison, they ask? Typically through the guards. It happens everywhere. In some lockups it's barely controlled. Part of the problem is that that guards are not upper-middle-class with... Read More
In Search Of Reality
In re race and the behavior of police: Reporters and writers of editorials seem to lunge instinctively for the superficial, preferably embodied in easily remembered buzz phrases. One such is "racial profiling." The implication, and assumption, is that blacks are being targeted for reasons of racial hostility by the police. Generally this isn't true. If... Read More
A Police Reporter's Reflections on the World Cops See
Police aren't like other people--not after a year on the job. Urban cops live in what amounts to a parallel world, in the city we all know but somehow a different city, sordid, hidden from the respectable middle-class, dangerous, peopled by creatures who seem barely human. It changes them. Cops see the grotesque, the inexplicable,... Read More
Who Do We Think We're Kidding?
I wonder whether people realize how bad the drug problem is in the schools. Sure, we all know drugs are there, but we get used to things, don't think about them. It's easy not to see the magnitude of the problem. Maybe you think drugs means marijuana. I got news. Anything you have ever heard... Read More
Situation Hopeless But Not Critical
The other night a buddy of mine from Chicago called and we talked about ride-alongs I'd done a few years back with the Chicago Housing Police, then the guys who policed the big housing projects in the city. Those were interesting times, perhaps worth a column. Everyone has heard of Cabrini-Greene, but Chicago has other... Read More
A Price For Drugging Our Kids?
Regarding the recent wave of killings by students in high school: Might the reason for these shootings, just possibly, be Ritalin, the amphetamine-like drug used to pacify millions of fidgety boys? Yeah, I know. Wild idea. But I'm not the first it has occurred to, and something is sure going on. We've all wondered, unless... Read More
Cops As Feminist Enforcers
A recent AP story begins: "Virginia is going statewide with another weapon in its battle against deadbeat parents -- pink and powder-blue car boots ? The state is hoping the boots and conspicuous sticker will embarrass parents into making payments."Fairfax has been doing this since 1998, says the story. The idea is to shame fathers--or,... Read More
What Would Perfect Cops Do?
I hear a lot of grousing about the behavior of cops. People are mad because they think they didn't deserve that ticket, or the officer had a bad attitude, or 911 didn't respond fast enough. The cop didn't seem to think that getting the cat out of the tree was up there with blasting John... Read More
Perplexity On The Street
Before we ran into Seely and her dad on Fourteenth Street and arrested him, except Seely wasn't really quite her name, Dave Goodridge and I chatted about how he got out of the projects of south Brooklyn and became a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police. Goodridge is an athletic black guy old enough to have... Read More
Dismal Thoughts On A Sorry Legal System
For years now I've been watching the legal system. It has been interesting if nothing else. The streets are a zoo, an asylum, a circus, a coral reef at midnight. I can't think of better entertainment. But it has seemed to me that the legal system isn't much of a legal system. In fact, it's... Read More
A Police View
Regarding the riots in Seattle, a few thoughts: I wasn't there and don't know anything with certainty. Friends of mine, two of them, watched the news footage and said they saw cops behaving with unreasonable force. That is, between them they saw two cops misbehaving. This column's position on genuine brutality by police is simple:... Read More
On a recent Thursday night in Arlington, the night in fact of the homicide that preempted the column last week, the car I was riding in got a call to go to a local hospital. Drug overdose. Officer Bob Barnett, the driver, was supposed to take a report. Little stuff like this takes up a... Read More
Hangin' With The Homies
Cook County Jail, Chicago--They come up, one at a time, from the innards of this place, in handcuffs, sometimes in leg chains, wearing the tan pajamas that are the uniform here. The jail is huge, 9000 prisoners including 850 women, most of the population being black with some hispanics and a few whites. Most are... Read More
Dropping In, But Not For Dinner
Chicago--The SWAT team of the Cook County Sheriff's Police was getting ready to make a forced entry at a house belonging to dope dealers. The room filled with guys in Ninja gear-ballistic vests, pistols in tactical holsters, riot guns, what have you. SWAT operations may look spontaneous, but they aren't. They're planned like a football... Read More
A Half-Second To Decide, And A Lifetime To Remember
Today, deep thoughts regarding cops and guns. The papers love to carry stories about some cop who put three boxes of ammo into a, by implication, perfectly innocent victim, preferably dark-skinned, out of (implied but never quite stated) sheer fascism. Regarding which, the following. Are some cops trigger-happy? Yep. A very few. Are some departments... Read More