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 the cradle of gangster rap. At the center of it, trying to maintain order was the Compton Police Department, never more than 130-strong, and facing an army of criminals that numbered over 10,000. At any given time, fully one-tenth of Compton’s population was in prison, yet this tidal wave of crime was held back by the thinnest line of the law—the Compton Police.
John R. Baker was raised in Compton, eventually becoming the city’s most decorated officer involved in some of its most notorious, horrifying and scandalous criminal cases. Baker’s account of Compton from 1950 to 2001 is one of the most powerful and compelling cop memoirs ever written—an intensely human account of sacrifice and public service, and the price the men and women of the Compton Police Department paid to preserve their city.