With so much anti-police furor, I didn’t know how I would feel about reading Karin Slaughter’s Cop Town: A Novel.
Cop Town is set in 1974, and from stories my mom has told me about Philly Cops “back in the day”, I knew it would be an unpleasant read. Unpleasant because I witnessed officers of the law say and do things that made my eyebrows meet my hairline.
Slaughter focuses the story on Maggie Lawson who lives with her insufferable mother, obnoxious brother, and bigoted officer, hoping that by joining the police force, she can finally be her own person, and not the doormat that her family has made her into. Kate Murphy is a widow and who also joins the force at a time where women were treated with no respect.
Even though the story is set in the seventies, some of the themes continue to ring true today. Atlanta has a newly elected African-American mayor who is determined to shake things up with the tight knot old school guard of the police department. The police are reeling from the release of a black man, Edward Spivey, who was freed from jail based on an error on the part of the cops. This reminds me of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who is trying to enact changes within the tight wall of blue in the NYPD.
The division of officers doesn’t just extend to the men and women. The African-American cops are treated with more disrespect than the women. 2014 seemed to be a year of redefining roles and dismantling stereotypes. Slaughter’s book did that, showing how despite the way things are, there is always room for change.
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