BOOK REVIEW: “Called to Rise” (Ret.) Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown (with Michelle Burford)

c.2017, Ballantine Books
$28.00 ($37.00 Canada)
261 pages

Your life is entirely wrapped up in your job.
You never aimed for that to happen, but it’s okay: what you do for a living has become your passion and therefore, you do it well. Life and work balance for you, but in the new book “Called to Rise” by David O. Brown, you’ll see the balance tip.
Little David Brown never wanted to be a police officer.
Not at first. He really wanted to become a lawyer like on Perry Mason. Working in a courtroom, putting criminals away seemed like the best job ever and so, after Brown graduated from high school, he headed for the University of Texas at Austin to reach his dream.
At the end of his sophomore year, though, that dream changed when crack cocaine came to his hometown of Dallas. He’d never seen such destruction, so he quit college in favor of a different method of putting “villains” away: Brown became a cop.
It was a comfortable job that came easy for him. His rookie year was spent “enforcing the law in a place where I knew, or at least knew of, just about everybody.” He made friends on the force and started working his way up the internal ladder. Meanwhile, over those years, he got divorced, lost his best friend to violence and his father to illness, raised a son, learned to lean on God for help, and met the love of his life.
The job, of course, was another love. Always yearning for more responsibility and better job positions, Brown leaped from department to department, worked a regular beat, was in charge of 9-1-1 and dispatch, and served with the Dallas SWAT team.
He learned first-hand that community policing worked like no other method of crime-fighting. He reached for the top. And then, just after he became one of the nation’s few African American Chiefs of Police, Brown was handed his biggest challenge ever.
Aside from the fact that this book is overloaded to distraction with clichés and a bit too much chest-thumping, “Called to Rise” isn’t too bad.
Readers who love true crime, or memoirs, will enjoy that the author writes about his passion for law enforcement, how he formed his hard, anti-drug stance while just a youth, and how it shaped the way he works. And yet, you’re asked to swallow a lot in those pages. However, it sometimes feels like the righteousness is forced.
Later, that tone softens when Brown admits that his son’s death changed the way he perceived the people he was sworn to protect. He’s introspective there, with less foot-stomping, as he also weighs in on racial issues, and how police and citizens can come together for a “more thoughtful” discussion on that subject.
Overall, “Called to Rise” is mostly good. It has moments of eye-rolling, but it’s also quite inspiring and yes, it’s worth reading. If you love police/detective memoirs, it’s a book to get wrapped up in.

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