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Vice: One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City
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Vice: One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  133 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
9 square miles. 10,000 criminals. 130 cops. A riveting memoir by Baker, California’s most-decorated police officer

Compton: the most violent and crime-ridden city in America. What had been a semi-rural suburb of Los Angeles in the 1950s became a battleground for the Black Panthers and Malcolm X Foundation, the home of the Crips and Bloods and the first Hispanic gangs, and
ebook, 432 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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Patrick O'Neil
There are two problematic and unforgivable issues with Vice: One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City.

One: a craft issue. Stephen J. Rivele, wrote this book using recordings of Sgt. John R. Baker telling his story. And the problem with using a person's narrative is that people tend to repeat themselves and it is the writer/editor's job to keep it to a minimum so the reader isn't constantly given the same information and phrasing over and over and over again. Unfortunately Riv
Eva Leger
This is yet another that should have been reviewed as soon as I finished it. It's been two months, give or take, and I forget so much of it.
I do remember how engaged I was and how fascinating I found Baker's story to be. I don't just take people as honest without really thinking about it and I definitely did feel Baker was as honest as possible. It seemed to me that he could have skirted a few things to paint himself in a better light and from what I read, he didn't do that.
I can definitely say
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am super excited to read this for 2 reasons. #1 - the subject matter is very interesting to me. It sounds similar to The Shield, one of my favorite TV shows ever and #2 - I am receiving an advance copy through Goodreads!

I'm torn with my thoughts on this book. I loved the stories and I appreciated the background info so I could truly understand what was going on. It did remind me a lot of The Shield - the cops in a rough area doing what needs to be done for the community even when all the actio
Nov 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free book through First Reads. I thought it was a great book. The writing was very descriptive and at times I could picture what was happening. I have 2 family members who are police officers and while their day to day may not be exactly like what Compton was like, it does make you appreciate the work these officers do each day. The only thing I would have liked is a map of Compton. I have never been and could only try to picture in my head with the descriptions of the s ...more
Susan Olesen
While I understand the dangers, disgust, and mentality involved in policework, I am appalled by the admissions of blatant abuse, politics, graft, and criminal behavior of the Compton Police Department. I understand their desperation at times, the lack of support, and the horrific conditions they had to work in - I get that, and I get that at times when dealing with criminals rules don't apply - but I am deeply disturbed by much of it.
Ryan Madland
I received this book book via Goodreads First Reads program. I have not received any sort of financial reimbursement for this review. Opinions expressed are of my own.

The book "Vice" by John R. Baker with Stephen J. Rivelle is an inside look at what it was like to be a police officer in Compton, California during some of its most bleakest times. Officer John Baker holds nothing back as he details how he and other members o
Jordan Lombard
This nonfiction book reads like an action packed novel. And the action doesn't stop until the very end. The author, and Compton Police Officer, Rick, asked one of his fellow officers what he thought would be the legacy of the Compton Police Department. The officer responded with "Rick, it doesn't matter if the public ever knows what we endured, because we know what we did." I completely disagree with this statement. I'm glad I know what happened, I'm glad he told the story of how 130 police offi ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
Having grown up in southern California, I was interested to read this account of crime fighting in Compton. This book is as much a cultural history of the city as it is a cop memoir. Compton, founded by Mormons, went from an all-white city, to one that was 95% African-American, to one that is now 55% Hispanic. Author Rick Baker himself represents that mix, with caucasian father, a hispanic mother, and an upbringing that found him in the thick of black culture. Baker has a healthy ego, and at tim ...more
Ok, the idea behind this book was good. Follow a guy who was instrumental in fighting crime in Compton. Sounds good - but it was TOO long. It felt like he kept telling the same story over and over again. Hey look - we beat this guy up and he respected us for it. Oh yeah, I kicked the s@#4 out of this guy and he saved my life one day. Um, ok??? The author seems to have a hero complex about all the great things he did (that honestly would have gotten him locked in a cell anywhere else). It would b ...more
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as part of the First Reads program. I hoped to win it, because I knew my father would love the book. I gave it to him as a birthday present, and he loved it. I am still in the process, but I know I need to write a review anyway. This is my first review, so it won't be all that amazing. I don't normally read non-fiction books, but so far this one is not bad. I don't like that this book was written out by someone else using a man's recording. I would like to have had John either di ...more
Shannon Evans
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book really tells the story of how Compton was back in 1970 & thru 1980. I personally have know Mr. Baker, now for 35 years & there is nothing phony, or made up in this book, or in Mr. Baker, he speaks the truth & to most people they can't even imagine what the dirty dozen went thru,to protect themselves & most of all the people in Compton.

Back in those days Compton was like another world, I can remember Mrs. Baker wrapping a scarf around my blond hair, when I would have to
I received this book via Goodreads First Reads program and it came as an advance uncorrected proof. My copy did not come with the 16-page black and white insert, which would have just been a nice addition to the story. Sgt. Baker details his life and time working for the Compton Police Department. He provides a very detailed look into the inner workings of the force as well as personal stories of events that he participated in. He also accounts the various gang activity in Compton and various cr ...more
Alberto Duarte prieto
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone that enjoys reading true stories
Recommended to Alberto by: A friend.
The book written by Sgt. Baker is an actual true account of the city Compton, with a population of 70,000, when it was transitioning from an all white city to an all black city in Los Angeles County back in the 1960's to the 1980's. The book is not a statistical account of crime in Compton, but of the life's of the people and police officers who lived and worked in Compton. The crime rate and murder rate during this period in Compton went up higher than most major cities in America and was being ...more
The following is a Firstreads winner review:
My review may have been prejudiced by the fact that I wore a badge in the past. However I can definitely say that my respect goes out too all of the officers, men and women, that wore the badge as a member of the Compton Police Department. Baker does an excellent job telling the story not only about the police but also about the city itself. Some of the stories as told by Baker may be a bit graphic for some folks but not much more than some of the curr
Brandon Schafer
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazing story that is completely engaging from the very first page and keeps you enthralled in the author's journey all the way to the very end! The dramatic changes that the city of Compton underwent transforming from an All-American City to becoming simply a War Zone are fascinating and frightening at the same time! Its a historic lesson to be learned by all citizens to pay attention and be active participants in their communities in order to ensure the sense of "community" is ...more
Patty Mora
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing police memoir from Sergeant John "Rick" Baker. Not only did the author describe his long memory of the Comptom Police Department, but he also educated the reader and provided a historical account of his experiences.

I never knew that Comptom, California, used to be 95% WHITE. Or that it was the deadliest city in America. Or that there were only 130 cops for 10,000 criminals.

This memoir was also a social study in gangs, and politics, and racial unrest. This book has it all: vi
Michael Henry
On the fence...

I liked the history of CPD and the city of Compton. This was very interesting. Everything else was exactly what it said the book would be in the preface - a book written from the cops point of view in the world of gangs and violence. Many "ghetto stars" such as Monster Kody and others write about their experiences growing up and bragging about what they have done on the streets. It seems every gangbanger wants to be a writer. Typical since they are egomaniacs that use it as an opp
Nov 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was thrilled to win this book in a drawing through Goodreads and couldn't wait to get started. This is definitely a take-your-breath-away memoir of a fallen city, complete with corruption in the city council ranks as well as the various police departments in the area. The violence which Sgt. John Baker encountered as a vice cop in a city overrun by gangs with total disregard for human life is sickening. How any cop managed to remain sane in Compton is beyond my comprehension.

If you are into a
Totally excited about winning this through the first reads here on good reads! Will be reading this as soon as I receive it. Watch for my review.
The setting for this is in Compton a semi-rural suburb of Los Angeles betwwen the years of 1950 to 2001. It was a battle ground for many of the toughest gangs around. In a 9 square mile consisting of no more then 130 cops at one time there were 10,000 criminals. The Compton cops did their patrol and dealt with crimes in a much different fashion then no
Goodreads Win!

I still haven't finished this, but I've read enough to give a preliminary review. The stories are intriguing and enlightening, and the author is blatantly honest about everything that was happening in his life, but as another reviewer wrote, I felt very little connection to the author. It felt like a robot was telling the story of a human being. This book is worth the read solely for the enlightening picture of Compton's history and subsequent transformation. Don't expect the one o
Fatso Judson
The book is mostly about the superhero antics of the author. By his own telling he is, among other things, one of LA's best street brawlers frequently knocking guys out with a single punch, a skillful politician, a lover so renowned that he earned a street nickname for his amorous adventures, the most courageous law enforcement officer ever and so on. Aside from the unbelievable escapades involving the author, the book is basically a story about the criminal activity of Compton gangs and the cri ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My rating of this went back and forth from 3 to 5 stars multiple times during reading. Finally settled on the 4.

Compton in the 70s and 80s was a very difficult and dangerous place both to live and to police. Criminals were insane and the police sometimes matched them in insanity. Baker's account of his celebrated career made me laugh, cringe, shudder, and shake my head. I would say it was hard to believe, but unfortunately, it is not.

Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ashley by: Won in a First Reads contest.
Shelves: first-reads
Real. Raw. Hard to read but impossible to put down. It's like a long unedited episode of Cops. The shots ring out just like you are there. John R. Baker is a tough cop that never forgets the human side of criminality. You empathize with the victims and mentally prosecute the perps. If only all cops could be like Baker. I was fortunate to win an advanced copy of this book in a First Reads contest. An engrossing read...highly recommended.
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a born and raised Compton police officer who started his patrol in the sixties, it is fascinating to read his first hand account of how Compton evolved from a decent city to raise your kids to the city we hear about in the news. The early days sound similar to my home town, Detroit, but the gangs go far beyond what has happened here. Most people hear what's on the national news, and what the rappers have to say. Here's the real story by a man who lived to tell.
Shannon Evans
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was about Sgt. John Baker's experience on the Compton police force. It was an exciting and engaging tale. I hope many people read this who are not peace officers or worked closely with them, to get a real feel for the dangerous work and service they provide for us. Sgt. Baker sounds like he has great people skills and enjoyed his job. I am glad he had the opportunity to tell his story.
All together the book was good. I enjoyed reading it and learning all the history in it. The first couple of chapters were hard to put together with all the back and forth from past and present. I have recommended it to my coworkers to read and let them borrow the book.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up and taught school during part of the time in the book. My mother taught school
There and my dad helped run a foundry
On Santa Fe and Alondra.

Some of the story I had a hard time with. It should have had a better edit
If you were around Compton read it.
Dee Dee
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was can not put down book. It is especially exciting for people who know the area. John's bravery was unbelievable. What a gutsy guy. Wish there were more cops like him. This would also make a great tv show.
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