Book Talk | Walk the Walk: How Three Police Chiefs Defied the Odds and Changed Cop Culture
Join the Institute for Public Knowledge for a book talk on Walk the Walk: How Three Police Chiefs Defied the Odds and Changed Cop Culture, with the author Neil Gross in conversation with Elizabeth Glazer and Patrick Sharkey, moderated by Jacob Faber.
What should we do about the police? After the murder of George Floyd, there’s no institution more controversial: only 14 percent of Americans believe that “policing works pretty well as it is” (CNN, April 27, 2021). We’re swimming in proposals for reform, but most do not tackle the aggressive culture of the profession, which prioritizes locking up bad guys at any cost, loyalty to other cops, and not taking flak from anyone on the street. Far from improving public safety, this culture, in fact, poses a danger to citizens and cops alike.
Walk the Walk brings readers deep inside three unusual departments—in Stockton, California; Longmont, Colorado; and LaGrange, Georgia—whose chiefs signed on to replace that aggressive culture with something better: with models focused on equity before the law, social responsibility, racial reconciliation, and the preservation of life. Informed by research, unflinching and by turns gripping, tragic, and inspirational, this book follows the chiefs—and their officers and detectives—as they conjured a new spirit of policing. While every community faces unique challenges with police reform, Walk the Walk opens a window onto what the police could be, if we took seriously the charge of creating a more just America.
Neil Gross, a sociologist best known for his research on higher education, politics, and academic life, is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology at Colby College in Maine. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Gross holds a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from UC Berkeley and received his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of two books, Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? (2013) and Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher (2008), and the coeditor of four others: The New Pragmatist Sociology: Agency, Inquiry, and Democracy (2021); Professors and Their Politics (2014); Social Knowledge in the Making (2011); and Durkheim’s Philosophy Lectures (2004). Before joining the Colby faculty in 2015, Gross taught at the University of Southern California, Harvard, the University of British Columbia, and Princeton.
Elizabeth Glazer is the founder and co-editor of Vital City, a policy venture aimed at providing practical solutions, grounded in civic life, to public safety issues. Previously, she served as the criminal justice adviser to the New York City Mayor, focusing on both reducing incarceration and crime and creating neighborhood-led safety strategies. She has also worked as the New York State Governor’s public safety deputy secretary, overseeing eight agencies. Earlier in her career, she was a federal prosecutor in New York City, focusing on violent crime. She has written about her work in Vital City, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal, among other places.
Patrick Sharkey is William S Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. His research focuses on urban inequality, violence, and public policy. Sharkey was formerly Chair of Sociology at New York University, served as Scientific Director at Crime Lab, New York, and is the founder of AmericanViolence.org. He is the author of two books, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the New War on Violence (2018); and Stuck in Place: Urban neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality (2013).
Jacob William Faber is an Associate Professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and holds a joint appointment in NYU’s Sociology Department. His research and teaching focuses on spatial inequality. He leverages observational and experimental methods to study the mechanisms responsible for sorting individuals across space and how the distribution of people by race and class interacts with political, social, and ecological systems to create and sustain economic disparities. While there is a rich literature exploring the geography of opportunity, there remain many unsettled questions about the causes of segregation and its effects on the residents of urban ghettos, wealthy suburbs, and the diverse set of places in between.