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The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes and Racism in America's Law Enforcement and the Search for Change

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Veteran police officer and CNN law enforcement analyst Matthew Horace offers an unforgettable account of the racism, bigotry, and colorlines that permeate America's law enforcement culture, institution, and system, and lays out a blueprint for change.

Matthew Horace was a police officer for 28 years in every state in the country. Yet it was after seven years of service when
Hardcover, 238 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Hachette Books
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The Black And The Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement might have been named Black and Blue. What's the difference you say? This book which deals with encounters between Black Americans and our men and women in Blue, (law enforcement officers), sometimes Black or Hispanic but most often White, causes what I can only think of as a bruise, commonly described as a black and blue, one that never fades.

Author Matthew Horace certainly has the credentials
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Missing Two Very Important Words. In this book by former high ranking ATF agent Matthew Horace, we get an inside look at the problems and perils of policing in America through the eyes of a man who is both black and blue.

The book overall was very surprising to me, as I happen to be a former leader in the Cop Block movement, who has been active in fighting police brutality since a few years before anyone had ever heard of Michael Brown or Black Lives Matter (the organization). It was surprising i
Donna Davis
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that care about civil rights in the USA
"Even as a federal agent, I have been on surveillance or supporting an operation and have had an officer approach me and say that the neighbors called about a "suspicious" vehicle, which meant it was a black guy driving a car. I’ve been the man in that suspicious vehicle.”

Matthew Horace worked as a cop at the federal, state, and local level for 28 years, and he is plenty sick of the “toxic brotherhood.” The quote above refers to an incident that occurred in Mill Creek, a (very white) suburb outs
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An extremely thought-provoking book and one that deserves wider notice. I hope people won't dismiss it as "anti-cop" because it was FAR from that. The author has 28 years experience as a black man in law enforcement and clearly identifies as a cop, proud of the profession but respectful of the challenges of police work, which is hard, frustrating, and physically dangerous. At the same time he acknowledges that racism is endemic to the profession, and that black men are commonly seen as “the enem ...more
Zoe's Human
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
What is life like in a black body behind the thin blue line? What does one see from there?

Matthew Horace is a law enforcement veteran with 28 years of experience at federal, state, and local levels. In The Black and the Blue, he examines the toxic aspects of police culture—the racism, the sexism, the "code of silence"—that allow brutality to flourish. I was most impressed at his willingness to openly confess to his own culpability within the system and his regret for the same. He looks not only
TJ Wilson
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will hit you hard.

Matthew Horace exudes goodness and equanimity and just immense intellectual and empathetic awesomeness.


This book does a heartbreaking and wonderful job of outlining the state of affairs today with respect to race, policing, crime, and all of the many other factors involved. And he makes a smart case for moving forward.

Ultimately, this book is about understanding the grey area, and that’s what makes it so good.
Jerry Smith
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read, race, crime
I am scared of the police in this country and I am a middle aged white guy. I have long studied the roots, history and manifestation of racism across the World but particularly in the US as I strive, every day, to be an anti-racist.

Amid calls to defund the police and the appalling race baiting that is going on from the White House, it seemed a good idea to turn my attention to the police - specifically the apparent racism and police brutality that is becoming ever more present in the news as the
dnf @ 57%.

this is probably a useful book if you're a total beginner or you think the problem with police violence is "a few bad apples," but it's not anything you can't read more concisely and with less apologism elsewhere.

for example: horace is like, "black lives matter isn't anti-cop," and then complains about how BLM doesn't, like, single-handedly take down street gangs or whatever (when irl all of the anti-cop advocates i know do incredible community justice work as well). make up your mind.
Elle (literary.ya)
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Yes, a lot has changed. And change is good, but it’s not necessarily progress. If black men & women continue to die disproportionately at the hands of police, as they have over the past few years, we haven’t made progress. If the relationship between communities of color & law enforcement remains as toxic as ever, we haven’t made progress....”

This is a must read. To anyone and everyone.

“Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. EVERYBODY CAN DO SOMETHING.”
Deni B
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it

Half of the time I was so angry I could almost justify illegal acts and the rest of the time I was just so sad. Reading about all those young people lost... how could it possibly happen again and again? And it continues.

The talk that some parents must have with their sons-so important and at the same time so wrong. And it’s wrong that if white kids were dying like this things would change quickly. But that is not the America we have now so we must all do what we can to turn this around. Yes, po
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting read for me. Though I did not always wholeheartedly agree with the officer who wrote the book, I found it interesting to hear a Black cop’s perspective on police brutality. This account does provide additional evidence for why we should defund the police and refund social services. It also provides additional evidence of a system that would be racist, even with 0 racist police officers on the force. Overall, I’m glad I read it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
This is an important read told from a perspective frequently ignored - the black police officer. It is also crucial to our understanding of the intersection of policing with institutional and individual racism. The Black and the Blue should be required reading for everyone working in the criminal justice system. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A difficult book to read. While the writing is personal and accessible, the content itself is challenging. An insider's look at the racist culture inside America's police force, sharing horrifying and moving perspectives of the brutal killings of many people of color throughout the country. Offers some examples of ways the police departments can improve and change, while also pointing out that it is not just the police, but many levels of government and social services failing communities of col ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can't believe the tellings of all these stories, wait, actually I can. After all the things you here in the news this book basically goes deep into what actually is happening. There are very compelling stories from all over the country. There are so many instances where things get out of hand & it is unreal to read about what people go through as well as what they get away with (murder/scandals). The racism among your fellow officers is rampant in every corner & it's shameful to read about it ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A powerfully communicated profile of police culture, municipal greed, systemic racism, and economic terrorism, the ex-police author weaves the threads of the complicated story of police violence against people of color and the ways those chosen to serve and protect are too often used as tools of oppression against the citizens.
David Corleto-Bales
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Anyone who believes there isn't an implicit bias in American culture that manifests itself into violence committed by police officers against black people needs to read this book. Matthew Horace is a former police officer and ATF agent who relates case after case of horrific treatment of people by the police and courts, but finds some room for hope.
Adam Bridgeo
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book. The book had many different cases dating back many many years, all the way to 2007. Allowed the reader a different perspective of this difficult cases.
Jenny Leitsch
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fast, thought-provoking read. Loved the author's perspective and how he blended others' voices throughout the book.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
First of all, thank you to the author for writing this much needed book and the publisher for publishing it. This book is a must read. If anyone thinks that there is no difference between arrest/shootings of people of color, if this book does not have you look at things differently,something is wrong. Precise, clear writing with statistics and first hand thoughts on various encounters between African American people and police officers. It is scary in this day and time that this goes on, but it ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes and Racism in America's Law Enforcement and the Search for Change
Author: Matthew Horace and Ron Harris
Genre: Nonfiction
Publication Date: August 7, 2018

The Black and the Blue by Matthew Horace tackles the issue of police brutality in today's age, and analyzes how the past and present are affecting minority groups, specifically African Americans, today. Using interviews from current and ex-law enforcement officers, members of the community
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racism
"Black Lives matter is not anti cop, just as the women's rights movement is not anti men."

"Racism and sexism affect the conscious prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone not a different race or sex based on the belief that one's own race or sex is superior."

"I feared for my life is a defense that may be reasonable but not completely accurate. That's what the higher ups tell officers to say when something goes awry. You learn it int he police academy and it becomes the m
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review is crossposted at my website,

I work with children with physical and mental differences. The place I work at is stocked with a variety of toys. One of the toys we have are a police car that makes a siren sound whenever a button is pressed.

Almost every child that comes recognizes this vehicle. Some can say “police car!” Some, if their mental capabilities are high enough, will enact play schemes with the police car and another vehicle where the cops catch a bad guy.
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The Black and the Blue" is a harrowing but important book by Matthew Horace, a black law enforcement expert who has been a police officer, ATF agent, and law enforcement analyst for national media outlets. Horace uses his own experiences in law enforcement, experiences of other black police officers, and the experience of black communities to unequivocally show the racism and gross injustices that pervade police departments across the country.

He also talks about the political and societal syst
Listened to this gripping book with an open mind, often thinking of the family and acquaintances I know who are police officers. Horace writes from such a broad perspective, including his own many years in various levels of law enforcement, but also through the extensive research and interviews of countless others. The outcome, I think, is a balanced and comprehensive review of the history of the problems deep within the institution of law enforcement, particularly as it has effected the communi ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I would give this book 3.5 stars if allowed but couldn’t quite get myself to err on the side of 4 stars.

I kept looking for an acknowledgement of responsibility for law enforcement’s violent and racist internal culture but that really came only in the epilogue and in one passively written sentence at that.

The author offers stories of police brutality along with what feel like defensive justifications as explanations by saying police aren’t equipped to handle mental health issues or the systemic
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Horace, a retired senior ATF official with decades of law enforcement experience, has written a monograph that explores the culture of police departments, their relationships with local communities, and offers suggestions for how police departments can identify and curtail racist practices and culture.

Aside from clearly articulating the development of laws and practices that created systemic discrimination against communities of color, Horace also uses the lives (and too frequently deat
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Meh. It's probably more like a 2.5. There are tactics used in the book that can be described as...disingenuous almost. There are a few points where the author writes out the number of a percentage in the middle of having used numerical designations before and after as if to hide the true value. Is that the intent? I don't know, but it was noticeable. There are also several (if not every chapter) in which the author goes through the point of building a case of the amount of rampant abuse and raci ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Horace has written a compelling indictment of our tolerance for the ongoing racism that has been institutionalized in our police systems. Horace points to the Black Lives Matter movement as needed because the numbers of murders of black men, women and children continue to increase. The loss of lives in the black community would not be tolerated if the same happened in white populations. He raises a lantern of hope of the possibility of real change in the way the police act in their communities a ...more
Ryan Miller
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In today’s polarized world, can a person be an advocate that both black and blue lives matter? Matthew Horace shows us a way forward in this book that exposes the brutality and corruption of how systems of power have abused black lives over his career in law enforcement, and how reforming those systems are crucial (albeit difficult) in helping oppressed communities stay safe. Using his own experiences, interviews with others in law enforcement, and extensive research, Horace finds a way to advoc ...more
Kyle Farris
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
In the midst of all the controversy of NFL kneeling, Black Lives Matter, and President Trump's twitter-happy fingers, this is an absolutely fantastic read. It's so important that white people gain some exposure on the day-to-day lives of people of color, and Matthew Horace is a great source for it. As a cop who is black, he has loyalties to the badge as well as his community/culture, and he does a remarkable job to honor both throughout the book. By sharing stories and statistics of police invol ...more
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“When I was on the police department in Virginia, I was often dispatch the calls of a “suspicious black male” and, in response, I would ask via the radio, “What is he doing?” My question was simple. Just what is he doing that makes him suspicious, other than being a black male? Generally, when I did this, my mostly white fellow officers would key the radio microphone to make a clicking sound in a show of sarcastic disapproval at my question, and a supervisor might call me to ensure that I was responding to the call. Most times these calls involved nothing more than a black man waiting for a bus; he was just waiting for the bus in the “wrong” neighborhood. Another time, a black guy was passing out flyers. Another time, a kid and his girlfriend had a tryst planned in a secret meeting place during the day. It was always innocuous stuff. It’s not that we shouldn’t investigate “suspicious” people, but what makes them suspicious?” 0 likes
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