‘400 Things Cops Know’ Is New Bible For Crime Writers

“400 Things Cops Know” is being coined the new bible for crime writers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Adam Plantinga is the 13-year veteran cop who has been working on the book for four years, jotting down his own experiences and stories of fellow officers and gathering details from notes on the job. The book attempts to debunk the myths about police work made popular on TV with personal vignettes, trade secrets and observations about the criminal mind.

“400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman” has garnered the attention of top crime writers—a feat for an obscure title that has sold fewer than 2,500 copies.

Author Adam Plantinga cold-contacted thriller writers he admired through their websites and agents, hoping the book would get their attention. Plantinga had been rejected or ignored by 90 agents, and the 91st one who took him on couldn’t secure a publishing deal. He finally found a backer in a small independent press, Linden Publishing in Fresno, California, which put out the book last month.

Along the way, internationally best-selling thriller writer Lee Child mentioned “400 Things” in several interviews. In a blurb for the publisher, Mr. Child called the book “a mix of hard-boiled autobiography and street-wise poetry.” Fellow crime novelist George Pelecanos recommended the book on Twitter. In an email, he praised its wry humor and honesty, calling the book a resource for crime writers who live in fear of screwing up any details. “The most gratifying message a crime writer can get is a ‘you got it right’ note from a police officer or a criminal,” Pelecanos wrote.

The high-profile accolades from crime writers are making a difference. “It’s been a very pleasant surprise,” said Kent Sorsky, Linden’s publisher. A reality TV production company contacted the publisher with an idea for a show, and the book has broken the top 100 on Amazon’s list of law-enforcement titles. Linden is planning a second printing.

The cop’s nonfiction work is full of mildly subversive tangents, like the one about cops disliking police hats. According to Mr. Plantinga, the hats not only have a tendency to pouf out, making their wearers resemble chefs, but also make easy targets for bad guys thanks to their shiny gold shields located above the brim.

Mr. Plantinga details the routines of cop life. What’s it like inside the station house? “It’s like high school except everyone’s armed.” Why don’t cops always wear seat belts?” “It’s your fist in the face of The Man, even though you are The Man.” But, he goes on to say, “I don’t know. It’s complicated.” Plantinga describes an uneventful night shift with no people or movement is “like you’re patrolling outer space.”

Police outsiders might not have guessed that people die watching television a lot, remote in hand or that men who get kicked in the groin seem to recover faster if they hop up and down. Also, searching children is difficult because they’re short. Mr. Plantinga writes of one of his experiences with an eight-year-old suspect, saying, “It was like frisking a frog.”

The San Francisco Weekly says that the book “unpacks the most mundane and most controversial aspects of cop life.” The author, on occasion, speaks provocatively, calling single mothers heroic, though chastising them for calling upon the cops to solve their family problems.

He defends a cop’s use of force if necessary saying, “If someone fights you, you can’t afford to lose.” He says that an officer is to assume that the perpetrator will try to take their gun and use it against him or her and their partner. He says to “hit them as hard as you can. Make it the worst day of their life.”

His book coincides with an initiative in New York City that involves police-interaction with citizens. The Inquisitr reports of a new wave of seminars held in New York City high schools to give students insight into the mind of the police, as well as how to properly and safely assert their rights while dealing with them.

The author’s “400 Things Cops Know” is quickly becoming the new bible for crime writers as it gives insight into the drama and the mundane of a day in the life of a cop.

[Image via Wall Street Journal]