Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


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

Sgt. John R. Baker with Stephen J. Rivele

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

9 square miles. 10,000 criminals. 130 cops.

Compton: the most violent and crime-ridden city in America. What had been a semirural suburb of Los Angeles in the 1950s became a battleground for the Black Panthers, home of the Crips and Bloods and the first Hispanic gangs, and the cradle of gangsta rap.

At the center of it, trying to maintain order, was the Compton Police Department. Never more than 130 strong, it faced an army of criminals that numbered over 10,000. At any given time, fully one-tenth of Compton's population was in the justice system, 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 and became the city's most decorated police officer. He was involved in some of its most notorious, horrifying, and scandalous criminal cases. Baker's account of Compton from 1951 to 2001 is one of the most powerful and compelling cop memoirs ever written--an intensely human story of sacrifice the price the men and women of the Compton Police Department paid to preserve their city.



A Model Community

I was not born in Compton, but I grew up there.
My father moved to the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles in 1927 from Tucson, where his father had lived. My original family name was Boulanger,...


Praise for Vice

“Harrowing…thrilling…in-your-face violence and resilient heroism that leap off the page.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A candid and unapologetic glimpse into a lawman's life. Grim, exhilarating, heroic … with a dash of history thrown in for good measure.” —Lt. Randy Sutton, author of True Blue and A Cop's Life

“Some of the best cop stories you'll ever read—[I] promise. Rick Baker's Compton makes the South Bronx look like [summer] camp.” —Brian McDonald, author of My Father's Gun: One Family, Three Badges, One Hundred Years in the NYPD

“Compton, California, in the 1970s and 80s was like the Wild West, and Rick Baker was perhaps the Compton Police Department's bravest and most honorable officer. His book, Vice, is a nonstop thrilling saga of how this small but determined police force kept order in a tough town.” —Leonard Levitt, author of NYPD Confidential

In the Press

Read the Kirkus Review of VICE One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City. The life and work of a tireless Compton, Calif. beat cop. - Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Sgt. John R. Baker with Stephen J. Rivele

SGT. JOHN R. BAKER is an eighteen-year veteran of the Compton Police Department. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

STEPHEN J. RIVELE is the Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter of Oliver Stone's Nixon, and of Will Smith's Ali. Rivele is also the author of eight previous books. He lives in Pasadena, CA.

Sgt. John R. Baker

Stephen J. Rivele

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin

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