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400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  733 ratings  ·  100 reviews
How does it feel to be in a high-speed car chase? What is it like to shoot someone? What do cops really think about the citizens they serve? Nearly everyone has wondered what it’s like to be a police officer, but no civilian really understands what happens on the job. “400 Things Cops Know” shows police work on the inside, from the viewpoint of the regular cop on the beat— ...more
Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Quill Driver Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  733 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
PLOT | Don't let the economical cover design and link-bait sounding title fool you, 400 Things Cops Know is requisite reading for a better understanding of law enforcement, as well as for learning about problems endemic to urban American life. The book is written by Adam Plantinga, an active Sergeant in San Francisco, who boasts fifteen years experience shared between two different urban departments. He breaks policing down into its loosely-defined components, and then writes a number of aphoris ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Had heard this is the "bible" for many crime writers & it did not disappoint. Alternately funny, grim and touching, really gives you an appreciation for what cops go through on the job.

Plantinga is a gifted writer & brings little snippets of the realities of a tough and often thankless profession into sharp relief.

If you like "The Wire," "Homicide," or crime fiction by Michael Connelly or George Pelecanos, this one's a keeper.
Eric Plume
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Excellent reading, written by a person who knows the subject they're writing about. Anyone who is curious about police work or law enforcement culture ought to pick this book up and give it a scan. I've been doing research on crime and police action for a couple years now and I was enthralled by what I read here. The subject matter is presented in a forthright manner with a sprinkling of dry humor and tough-as-nails street poetry thrown in...The result is both easy and hard to read by turns, but ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Smart, funny, and useful -- should be on every mystery and crime writer's shelf. And they should take it down and browse it once in a while! Readers who don't write will find it full of intriguing law enforcement details, from the daily occurrences to the rare-but-noteworthy.
Betsy Ashton
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I buy a book because I think it will be good for research in the future. I usually scan it, pick up and read random chapters and put it on the shelf. Then I bought 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga, I thought I'd follow the same pattern. So did not happen.

I don't know what I expected, but Plantinga delivered so much more information in a way that made this list of "things" a page turner. Well written with terrific organization, the bo
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I heard the author speak at Saturday's California Writers' Club meeting. His presentation inspired me to buy the book from him and to read it right away. I was not disappointed at all. This is a great read. The format - numbering things cops know is a really smart way to impart a plethora of first hand information from a beat cop. It's very well written, engaging, eye-opening, and even heart-breaking. Having read it and hearing Plantinga speak gives my much more insight ...more
Jeremy Hornik
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book by a writer who is also a patrol officer and currently a sergeant. It reminded me of Homicide, with less tendency to go into editorializing. Humble and straightforward in its premise, "400 Things" puts you into the position of being a patrol officer better than any other book I know. A powerful mix of detail and broader theorizing, it is neatly broken into 400 paragraphs, in chapters with titles like "18 Things Cops Know About The Use of Force" or "28 Things Cops Know About Booze a ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Well, if you ever wanted 400 reasons not to be a cop, this book has them. Although, I can just give you one reason: it will kill your soul.

As with 90% of the other reviewers here, I read this as a part of research for potential crime story writing.
I'd say it's a good start.

By the way, the little rivalry that they have between cops and firemen in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and every cop movie ever? Totally true. This author likes to sneak in jabs now and then at the boys in red.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh man! What a listen. His disturbing insights into society and criminals would be hilarious if they weren't disturbingly true. I saw a guy the other day who lodged a machete into an innocent man's skull in a failed attempt to steal his car. Some wonderful do-gooder ran into the assailant with his car. There were two girls who showed up in the ER, wanting to see if the criminal was OK. The cops had to bar the young women from the room. The fact that they were interested in interacting with a vio ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At a time when all cops seem under attack, this is a good reminder about how absurd, surreal and relevant this job is every day to the person who calls 911. With compassion and humor, Plantinga does not hold back from sharing criticism or admiration, but the details steal the show. I will never look at a man wearing a leather jacket with a fake fur collar the same way again. Read it for the details, and let them flow over you.
Terry Odell
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A must-have, must-read for anyone writing crime fiction involving police officers. The author, a veteran cop presents a well-written, articulate summary of 19 different aspects of police work. Instead of spouting "just the facts," he puts you inside the head of a cop, something necessary for writers who want their characters to be believable.
Robin Costic
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book gave a very "real" account of policing in today's environment. Everyone should read it for an informed account of what really happens - there could be more understanding of what cops are faced with and not so many unfair judgements. The NYC mayor would do well to take a peek within it's covers.
Bill Collins
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book, at times, was kind of a downer, as it shows you what all cops have to put up with and what they encounter on a regular basis. It is well written and let's you know what it is like to be a cop and how they see things. It makes you really appreciate what they do.
James R Jackson III
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well. We always wondered.

A book that tells the truth has merit. This truth is not a literary explication of a truth or two. Thank goodness the author

can write with humor,or this book would have hurt a lot.
Bourne Morris
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific read and full of good information
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A dark, funny, and sad look into the world of policing. It's informative but also grisly at times. I learned some things I could've gone without knowing.

What's ironic is that Plantinga spoke of a prostitute who told him more than he wanted to know. Dude, sometimes you've told us more than we wanted to know! Some descriptions were graphic to make a point, but other times he just didn't need to go there. It's almost like an older brother trying to gross out a younger brother. Yes, I get it. Cops
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
400 Things Cops Know by Adam Plantinga is a very interesting book about what cops do on the job. Written by a former police officer, it gives people an inside look about what it’s really like to be the long arm of the law. This book shows that the job of a police officer isn’t as glamorous as it looks, but that it is dangerous and stressful. It shows that police officers aren’t as respected as they should be. I would rate it 5 stars because Plantinga is descriptive, funny, and straightforward a ...more
Javier HG
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Este libro lo disfrutarán aquell@s a quienes les gusten las películas, series o novelas de policías en elos EE.UU., ya que este libro (escrito por un ex-policía) explica lo que es el día a día de un policía y lo numerosos errores de la ficción. Ej: si se detiene a una persona, NO hay que leerle sus derechos (como ocurre en la TV que se los leen en seguida). Solo si se la va a interrogar.

¿Cómo comportarse ante el primer cadáver? ¿Y ante el primer suicidio? ¿Qué meses son los más complicados para
Vince Cooper
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would you read 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons From a Veteran Patrolman again? Why?
Yes, as an investigator I can relate to almost every point listed, just with a little different experience. Many laughs, many flash backs, and many head shaking moments.
What was one of the most memorable moments of 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons From a Veteran Patrolman?
how quickly police work can go from humorous to incredibly sad.
Was this a book you wanted to read all in one sitting?
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the profession of law enforcement by an actual officer. It was easy to read, but had a few typo's (maybe the digital format). It was interspersed with humor and was a welcomed eye opener in this time of open season on law enforcement by the media and others. The author does make some good points and offers a couple of common sense suggestions that we all would be wise to heed.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His gift for writing is clear and, at times, has me rolling. "At least one of them, usually some kid in a headband and skinny jeans whose idea of tough was probably overcoming shin splints, will get in your face..." As funny as Adam is is also how real he is. It's a tough job made even tougher when the law abiding part of the public you serve doesn't appreciate you. I hope he writes more books.
Tommaso De
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good read to understand how does it feel to be in the shoes of a cop. It does address a lot of common complaints cops get, with a decent amount of common sense. It’s still a bit “police fuck yeah” but quite informative on things that might not be obvious. Also, excellent research material for writers!
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The whole book is written in the second person, this gets tiresome really fast. Most of it is just interesting trivia and the bullet points are just making it seem cheap. This could be a lot more interesting if instead it dropped the list format and went into more detail about fewer stories. I did like the candor.
Crissy Kasten
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Perpetuates stereotypes of firefighter/cop rivalry with no basis. Attempts to justify the yelling of “put your gun down” (or something similar) while shooting. Considering the excess of unjustified police shootings, this strikes the wrong chord. 90% is great and explains the combination of monotony, exhilaration, fear, responsibility, and ethical quandaries that are standard for the job.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This was informative and interesting. A fairly easy listen in between some heavier books.

Quite scary in some ways to get some insight into the daily things that cops have to deal with.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to understand life from a different point of view, or pick up some practical tips.
Melanie  Koerperich
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some information I didn't know and found very interesting. Not actually what I expected though. I was expecting something for a civilian but it almost seemed more geared toward someone wanting to become a cop or in the academy.
Curt Mize
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
An Interesting look into the law enforcement profession. Written by theologian Alvin Plantinga's son. The language is pretty rough, but it gives you a profound respect for the difficulty and complexity of the job. It's a good piece of vocational epistemology.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Short snippets from personal experience - illuminating and to the point. Good for listening to as an audiobook. I took away the best way to kick open a door (with your back turned to it).
Benas Aukstikalnis
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting, casual book.

I liked how every chapter has it's own topic and how that topic has x number of things in it.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A interesting look at what cops put up with
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“The best book ever written about cops is Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by former Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon. The best TV show about cops is The Wire, created by David Simon. You may start to see a theme here.   16” 1 likes
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