University Sheepdog in Westwood CA by Terrence DurenBook Reviews — By Buddy Sampson on September 11, 2016 at 9:34 pm
A Gripping Account of being an African American Police Officer in Los Angeles
By Buddy Sampson
Chances are, if you are an African American man, in your lifetime you have or eventually will, experience an interaction with a police officer. Let’s face it, it’s an unfortunate part of being a Black man in America. In the current media sphere, police officers have taken the spotlight, with shootings across the country that have sparked protest from several groups and individuals. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the NFL’s 49ers has weighed in, refusing to stand for the national anthem in NFL games because of his angst regarding shootings of people of color by the police. Several groups, including Black Lives Matter have affected protests because of shootings at the hands of police. Officer Terrence Duren, as an African American police officer in Los Angeles, in his book, University Sheepdog In Westwood, CA, gives his unique perspective of being a police officer and an African American citizen who has experienced racial profiling by police himself. In his often gripping, disturbing and sometimes sad account of being an African American police officer working for several police agencies, University Sheepdog gives its readers an illuminating look into the day to day experiences of a Westwood police officer. And it is a roller coaster with several twists and turns that makes the 600 page novel a real page turner.
Duren starts the book by explaining the concept of sheepdogs, and how sheepdogs protect the flock from predators, wolves that take advantage of sheep that often have little concept of the dangers that face them daily. Police officers, often reviled by the public, are the sheepdogs of civilian life. But their jobs are not devoid of controversy and Officer Terrence Duren has experienced his share of it, as he struck a chord of protest for a couple of incidents at UCLA, one for a shooting that involved a homeless man that had gained control of his duty weapon, a justified shooting in which he could have lost his life, and for the arrest of a drunken student who resisted arrest and had to be restrained by a then controversial police maneuver.
In University Sheepdog, Duren addresses what seems to be a conflicting set of family values versus his sense of duty to the African American community. Duren’s uncle, Bob Duren, was a member of the Black Panthers. His grandfather, William Preston, “Brack” Duren was released from Ohio State Penitentiary after serving nine years for armed robbery of illegal gambling joints. His aunt Betty was killed by police in a “routine” police stop. These incidents framed Duren’s childhood. He also addresses child molestation in his book, having been abducted at gunpoint and molested as a youth. The book, which could easily become a cinematic marvel, details his work as an undercover officer at UCLA Hospital during a time when corrupt members of staff were drug dealing and fencing stolen equipment.
There are several funny moments in the book. Duren talks about “strategic withdrawal,” running from gang members of The CrIps after he turned his head and saw that the friends he were with had already taken off running when he decided to fight them. He talks about meeting his wife in the nightclub Carolina West, a popular nightclub that had telephones on tables that enabled you to call ladies or guys you felt attracted to.
In terms of knowledge, Duren imparts advice for all citizens, especially African American men in how to survive interactions with police officers. Unfortunately, as with most Black fathers, he’s had to give his own son life-saving advice on how to deal with police officers. 1) Remain calm. 2) Follow directions. 3) Be polite. 4) Do not argue. 5) Don’t make any sudden moves. 6) Do not reach for anything until you are told to do so. 7) If driving, have your driver’s license, registration card and proof of insurance ready in one envelope. 8) If the officer is rude, you remain respectful. 9) if you are with a friend and that friend starts acting a complete fool, you remain respectful. 10) If the officer does not explain the reason for stopping you, ask in a respectful tone his/her reason for for contacting you. 11) If you are not satisfied with the answer, request a business card, or ask for a supervisor. 12) Remember, just because a cop may seem harsh, that doesn’t make him/her a bad cop. That cop does not know that you are a good person. Many cops have lost their lives because they let their guard down. 13) In all situations maintain your poise. Be wise and stay alive!
University Sheepdog in Westwood L.A. is a must read for anyone in law enforcement, including police officers, CHP, forensics personnel, D.A.’s and others involved with the prosecution of citizens that break the law. It is also a fascinating read for anyone that wants to experience what police officers go through, seeing it in the unique prism from the perception of a Black man, who just happens to have chosen law enforcement as his profession. While I would have liked to see less procedural explanations, I understood that Duren was seeking to explain to the layperson the rules of law enforcement for understanding of the complexity what being a police officer entails, and how they have to make quick, possibly life-changing decisions on the fly. However, Duren’s personal encounters in death-defying situations make this book a novel that must be a fixture on your bookshelf. Why you may not agree with everything in the book, you will find yourself enthralled and fascinated by the accounts of arrests and other functions of the life of an African American police officer. Read the book and be sure to strap yourself in for an amazing ride.
Page Publishing Inc,