Monday, August 17, 2009

Rookie Review: Signal Zero

This is HF. When I first started the police academy, a supportive captain on the agency I dispatched for gave me a worn out copy of the book Signal Zero, by George Kirkham. The captain told me that it was a good read and, in his opinion, just as applicable today as it was in the 70's when it was written. I took the book and thanked him but didn't really think too much about it until later.

When I finally cracked it open, I couldn't put it down. The book chronicles the author's experiences as a college professor turned street cop. One semester, while teaching a criminology class, Mr. Kirkham developed a friendship with one of his students who happened to be a cop. This officer challenged the author to become a police officer to see if what he was teaching was actually true. Mr. Kirkham got permission from his university to take the challenge and entered the police academy. Following his graduation he was signed onto his friend's department and was immediately put into the roughest precinct.

Signal Zero illustrates the change from citizen to warrior. It shows the warrior bond that is common among all police officers. Through Mr. Kirkham's words we experience his realizations, triumphs, and heart breaks.

Even though this book was written in the 70's I couldn't help but feel that the guts of this work is still relevent today. Reading Signal Zero as a police officer, I couldn't help but feel incredibly satisfied as the author had many of his "aha," moments. Moments where the light bulb finally went on and he "got it." Many of us, if not all of us, know what "it" is that so many of the population does not get. It's satisfying to see someone who did not get "it," go from complete and voluntary ignorance to what he is today.

After finishing Signal Zero Mr. Kirkham remained a police officer. The experiences he chronicled in Signal Zero changed his life forever. You can learn more about him here.

I recommend Signal Zero to everyone. Mrs. Fuzz enjoyed reading the book as well but wanted me to warn you that there are some graphic scenes and language depicted in the book.


Paula said...

Thanks for the review I will see if I can find it....both son and I like to read books about cops

Johnny Law said...

There is a similar book that recently came out called, "A Cop In the Hood". It is a writer who became a cop in Baltimore to see what it is all about. I haven't read it but it has gotten decent reviews. And it is in print. I tried to find Signal Zero but I can't pay 30 bucks for a used paperback.

Mike "FossilMedic" Ward said...

Signal Zero left an impression when I read it in 1977. I re-read it when I became a fire marshal in 1986.

Typical firefighter, I took the other path, from practicioner to professor(!!)


kerrys said...

Johnny, Did you go to the library? Phoenix Public Library has a copy and I reserved it.

Christopher said...

Sounds like a good read... I'll have to pick it up.

Graphic and language? Where cops are involved? Who woulda thunk? :)

Slamdunk said...

Roanoke Cop recommended this book to me--he raved about it.