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To Serve and Protect: A Tribute to American Law Enforcement.

The history of American law enforcement is a tale of triumphs and tragedies. To Serve and Protect provides a concise but highly detailed account of policing from the colonial era to the present. The narrative traces the progress of American law enforcement from the first night watch established in Boston in 1631 to the chaotic frontier justice of the 1800s, from the reforms of the early 20th century and the rise of professionalism in the 1930s to the technological advances and community-oriented strategies that mark policing today.

The focus of the book, however, is to commemorate the personal tragedies that have accompanied this progress. In addition to providing an updated listing of the names inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, the book chronicles the lives and deaths of many of the officers honored there.

The remembered include U.S. Marshal Robert Forsyth, who became the first American law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty when he was shot while serving court papers to two brothers in Augusta, Georgia, in 1794. From Forsyth to J.H. "Cracker" Johnson, a motorcycle officer with the Waycross, Georgia, Police Department, who died from injuries sustained when he was thrown from a moving car by bootleggers in 1931, to Gail Cobb, the first African-American policewoman to die in the line of duty, shot while apprehending a bank robbery suspect in Washington, DC, on September 20, 1974, the stories trace the social changes that have impacted policing during the past 2 centuries. They also serve as a testament to the selfless dedication to duty that characterizes America's law enforcement officers.

Some of the accounts illuminate the lives of officers whose heroism may have been overshadowed by the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Such is the case with J.D. Tippit, an 11-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, who shortly past 1:00 p.m. on November 23, 1963, became the second person killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Officer Tippit, a well-regarded patrolman, had stopped Oswald when he observed that the suspicious young man fit the description of the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

The book also reflects the strange sense of irony that often haunts police work. On the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, J.D. Tippit's name appears next to John Kennedy's - a New York City police officer killed in 1922.

To Serve and Protect pays tribute to America's fallen officers by celebrating their lives and honoring their sacrifices through the remembrances of family members, friends, and fellow officers. The historical context in which the epitaphs appear strengthens the connection of these seemingly distinct tragedies by commemorating the shared sense of commitment that typifies the officers honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Reviewed by Andrew DiRosa Associate Editor FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin FBI Academy Quantico, Virginia
COPYRIGHT 1996 Federal Bureau of Investigation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:DiRosa, Andrew
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1996
Words:476
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