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 Press




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.



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,...

About the author

Sgt. John R. Baker with Stephen J. Rivele

SGT. JOHN R. BAKER is an 18-year veteran of the Compton Police Department. He lives in Las Vegas, NV.

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 Press

Latest on Facebook