What's it like to have the legal sanction to shoot and kill? This compelling and often startling book answers this, and many other questions about the oft-times violent world inhabited by our nation's police officers. Written by a cop-turned university professor who interviewed scores of officers who have shot people in the course of their duties, Into the Kill Zone presents firsthand accounts of the role that deadly force plays in American police work. This brilliantly written book tells how novice officers are trained to think about and use the power they have over life and death, explains how cops live with the awesome responsibility that comes from the barrels of their guns, reports how officers often hold their fire when they clearly could have shot, presents hair-raising accounts of what it's like to be involved in shoot-outs, and details how shooting someone affects officers who pull the trigger. From academy training to post-shooting reactions, this book tells the compelling story of the role that extreme violence plays in the lives of America's cops.
In the movies, police shootings are often glamorized; in real life, they're often vilified. This engrossing oral history looks at such shootings from the point of view of the cops for whom they are an extreme but unavoidable part of the job. Klinger, a sociologist and ex-cop, interviewed 80 police officers in four states, who, like him, shot someone in the line of duty. He addresses the issue thematically, including chapters that explore the cops' attitudes toward killing before they joined up, police training on the use of deadly force, incidents where interviewees refrained from shooting when it was justified, and the legal and psychological aftermath of shooting incidents. The shootings are described in vivid detail that probes the agonizingly complex, split-second choices cops must make over whether or not to shoot, most made under confusing and chaotic circumstances, often when the cops themselves are threatened or even wounded. Klinger's sympathy with the police is evident. He disparages"antipolice activists and other windbags" and doesn't seem to have interviewed anyone whose shooting was found to be unjustified. The experiences and responses are too diverse--some cops fall into depression after a shooting, while others take it in stride or even find it"exhilarating"--to allow for much generalization, so the interviews add up to little more than a collection of fascinating war stories. Still, readers will come away with a renewed appreciation for the difficulties police face every day on the streets.