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15 must-read books for law enforcement

These selections offer unique perspectives that make them valuable for police officers and engaging for anyone interested in law enforcement

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By Police1 Staff

Whether you’re shopping for a gift for your law enforcement officer or just looking to pick up a new read that offers a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs in the field of law enforcement, check out this curated list of recommended books by Police1 readers.

These selections range from gripping true crime stories and in-depth analyses of police procedures to personal memoirs and fictional tales that capture the essence of the profession. Each book offers a unique perspective, making them not only valuable resources for LEOs but also engaging reads for anyone interested in the complexities of law enforcement.

What books did we miss? Email us at and we’ll continue to grow our list of must-read books for law enforcement.

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Must-read books for LEOs

This collection of books, encompassing real-life experiences, historical accounts and expert advice, ensures there’s something to both challenge and inspire everyone interested in public safety. Explore the selection below to find your next compelling read.

Law enforcement life and personal journeys

Law Enforcement Families: The Ultimate Backup by James T. Reese, PhD, FBI Special Agent Retired and Cherie Castellano

Law enforcement officers undertake complex and stressful endeavors and LEO families are often unequipped to deal with the repercussions of this stress. This book sheds light on the relationship between LEOs and their families. The goal is to garner an appreciation for what each person is going through and learn how to embrace mutual support.

Cadet Blues by Rob Krider

Cadet Blues details author Rob Krider’s misadventures while attending the California Highway Patrol Academy. This hilarious book is all too real, and it’s a great read for anyone thinking about attending a law enforcement academy or someone who is nostalgic about their academy days.

Birmingham’s First Black in Blue by Leroy Stover

This first-person memoir traces the often difficult path of Leroy Stover, the first black law enforcement officer in Birmingham, Alabama. This book is essential as we continue to strive toward becoming a truly equitable society. Birmingham’s First Black in Blue makes a vital contribution to this discussion as an authentic and fascinating first-person history.

Police work and career experiences

Men in Blue (Badge of Honor) by W.E.B. Griffin

In Men in Blue, the first book of a 12-book series, get a glimpse of what’s behind the badge with the main characters as they deal with a shocking event: the killing of a cop in the line of duty.

Busting Bad Guys: My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night by Mark Langan

Sergeant Mark Langan details his 26-year career as a narcotics officer on the Omaha, Neb. police force. From starting his career as the youngest rookie in 1978 to becoming a highly decorated sergeant, Langan had a front-row seat for the steamy, drug-laden side of crime.

COP: A True Story by Michael Middleton

In this brutally honest portrait, Sergeant Michael Middleton, a retired veteran of the LAPD, tells the gripping tale of his two decades on some of America’s meanest streets.

All the Centurions: The Real “Prince of the City” Tells His Story Robert Leuci

Leuci takes us into the world of the New York City Police Department at a time when the city was crumbling under its own weight, drugs were taking over sensitive neighborhoods, and crime was rampant on the streets and subways.

This is a story of shattered illusions, endurance, healing – and most importantly, growth. Leuci describes his evolution from a naive rookie to a seasoned detective who believes that the only people he can trust are his fellow cops – until he learns even that might not be true.

Hostage negotiation and crisis management

Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator by Gary Noesner

Noesner, a specially trained non-violent confrontation and communication technique hostage negotiator, has seen plenty of action throughout his career. Noesner’s unit successfully defused many potentially volatile standoffs, and he takes readers on a heart-pounding tour through some of the most intense hostage crises of the past 30 years.

Terror at Beslan: A Russian Tragedy with Lessons for America’s Schools by John Giduck

This novel is a historic recounting of the Beslan School Siege that occurred in Russia on September 1, 2004. The book details untold stories about the victims, the soldiers who were there and the events that led up to the tragic incident. This book also highlights the lessons America’s school system can learn from the tragedy and what school leaders can do to protect themselves and their students from terrorism.

Law enforcement leadership and performance

Rising Through the Ranks: Leadership Tools and Techniques for Law Enforcement by Michael Wynn

    Effective leadership is a journey, not a destination. Rising Through the Ranks, written by a former DEA agent and police chief, details real stories of leadership and courage from police departments and investigative agencies. The goal of this book is to help inform potential leaders, from local police officers to federal agents, about useful tools and techniques for strong leadership.

    Performance Thinking: Mental Skills for the Competitive World...and for Life! by Jacques Dallaire

    This book addresses two basic but profoundly important questions: “How do I mentally sabotage my own performance?” and “How can I control my thinking in order to optimize my performance?”

    Learn a simple but powerful framework of mental rules that you can use to understand clearly how your thoughts influence your performance.

    Psychological and physical aspects of combat

    On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace by Dave Grossman

    What type of training does it take to head into a situation from which others will flee? On Combat takes a look at the evolution of combat and the development of the physical and psychological leverage that enables humans to kill other humans.

    The author also takes a look at what happens to the human body under the stresses of deadly battle and discusses new research that describes measures warriors can take to prevent debilitation so they can stay in the fight, survive and win.

    The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker

    In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker shows you how to spot subtle signs of danger before it’s too late. The book describes specific ways to protect yourself and those you love in a variety of situations, regardless of how non-threatening they may seem. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

    Historical accounts and tactical analysis

    Newhall Shooting - A Tactical Analysis by Michael E. Wood

    As the son of a California Highway Patrolman who was a peer of the slain officers in the famed 1970 Newhall shooting, Michael E. Wood grew up hearing about the event and its influence on CHP and the law enforcement community. This experience led Wood to be a lifelong researcher of the event. This book may be the most thoroughly researched and documented account of the shooting to date.

    The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

    In this novel, the Los Angeles Police Department night shift officers have a nightly routine. They call the end-of-shift get-togethers “choir practice,” or, which almost always involves heavy drinking, complaints about superior officers and sharing war stories. Each of the officers is disillusioned and uses cynicism as a shield, with the feeling that many of the people they’re paid to protect are not unlike the suspects they arrest.

    This article, originally posted on November 15, 2016, has been updated.