A Cop’s Life: How Sutton Changes ‘Cop Literature’

Within the line of duty, upstanding accomplishments are norm; even then, some officers manage to stand out for unparalleled excellence. Randy Sutton is a veteran of the Las Vegas Police Department, known nationally for his commentary on issues within or because of Law Enforcement policies. He first served ten years as a part of the Princeton New Jersey Police Department before serving for twenty-three years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. At retirement, he was at the rank of Lieutenant within the LVMPD, one of the most sophisticated and highly decorated in the history of the department. His teachings on how to police with honor have led and inspired thousands of prospective Law Enforcement officials. These lessons granted him the “Points of Light” award from the President of the United States. In his years, he has experienced all there is in the line of duty. All the frightening people, terrifying realities, and long, drunken nights amount into an autobiographical story of a frank cop. He is now known for his shocking expository tale, A Cop’s Life: True Stories from the Heart Behind the Badge. In this narrative, Sutton delves beyond the surface of police works and exposes the darkest parts of society. He presents an honest, heartbreaking, and expository tale of the hardest job in the world.

After the horrors of September 11th, 2001, Sutton began to solicit writings from law enforcement officers across the country. He wanted to bridge the growing gap between enforcement and those they serve, providing a new, broad perspective of the inner perspective of police. He gathered hundred of responses, editing them and adding his own perspective on law issues and traumas. A Cop’s Life is a powerful collection of anecdotes and situations relating to those on the front line. Unlike many cop memoirs – which turn from heart-warming to amusing to general in a formulaic fashion – Sutton focuses on truth in his autobiographical tales. Able to relate to anyone’s moral compass, the story takes in more than just touching tales. It exposes the true humanity it takes to live with this job. This book is the definition of gritty, episodically depicting both life as a New Jersey rookie and a veteran of Las Vegas – one of the most challenging cities in America for police. Sutton succeeds in connecting civilians with the true-life and true-crime aspects of police work.

A Cop’s Life covers so much more than the average reader – even prospective cop – could imagine. The stories have no clear delineation, and move about from positive to negative to everything in between. This story is not only the pain of dealing with domestic troubles influenced by bad areas. This story is a midnight call shuttering through the mind, driving up to the house of a kind elderly woman, finding her beaten to death in bed by the three thugs laughing as they run. Shocking, unsettling, and leaves the reader questioning; where did humanity go wrong? This is no cookie-cutter recipe of surprise as a criminal is still not taken down, despite best efforts. Instead, there is the story of a man outfitted in a Ninja costume, being filled up with a metal bullets, staring in disbelief as he stands and raises his own gun to meet you. A rush of not knowing what to do, having to problem solve within seconds of realization.

Even more surprisingly, A Cop’s Life doesn’t just outline the pain of seeing a family lost after a death. The reader is able to imagine the pride of the family, the student with shocking grades and a bright future, the sight of his body dangling from a wire, the confusion and pain in his family’s eyes. Suicide isn’t the covering of a body with a white sheet, it isn’t turning away a crying mother from the body. It’s raw, just as Sutton depicts every tale. The baby doesn’t just pass in its sleep, leaving a future unrealized – no. It dies in the arms of a tired, broken police officer, wondering where the world went wrong. What is possibly worst of all in the story, A Cop’s Life doesn’t show the generic, copy-and-paste ‘thank you’ montage from the people of a community. It shows both sides; those who hail Sutton as a hero, the protector of all, and those who see him as the devil, a proponent of racism and exclusion. Not once do people perceive him for who he is, a man doing his job the best he can. The reality rarely dawns on the public, but Sutton ensures it dawns on the reader.

Overall, Sutton does well by his audience, evoking an accurate depiction of the pain, torment, and confusion that builds behind the force. He fleshes out twenty autobiographical sketches from working and retired cops to show the life of an average man on the line. Avoiding classic cliches in literature of the sort is hard, but I admired how well he kept to the truth. The more hard-hitting scenes are his encounters with gang members, calls of suicides, and even burnt-out colleagues plans to pursue a different life. Sutton uses personal experiences to create haunting depictions of a variety of unlikely characters. There is a boy who tries to protect his grandmother from thugs’ attacks, and a young girl who inspires Sutton to keep on the track of duty. We get to peel back the curtain, see how he deals with the stress of trying to save and help those who refuse, resulting in an endless feeling of emptiness. He creates the feeling that many from combat do: long blank periods of boredom punctuated by shock and terror. Even scenes that buy into the classic ‘pure cop’ motifs – such as the final, bright Christmas story – do not lose touch with the real life experiences that Sutton deals with first-hand. This is a deeply personal ordeal, something that cannot be supplemented with traditional memoirs. Eerie and touching at the same time, “A Cop’s Life: True Stories from the Heart Behind the Badge” is one of the most shocking exposes of cop life in the history of literature.

Sutton’s attempt to bridge the gap between law enforcement and civilians succeeds in creating a shocking profile of the life and thoughts of those on the line of duty. A Cop’s Life: True Stories from the Heart Behind the Badge is an poignant retelling of everyday life formed with anecdotes from the front line. He easily creates an all new mix of the true-life and true-crime aspects of police work. This book shocks readers with the honesty, brevity, and emotion of the work as a whole. Anyone seeking a new way to understand exactly what happens behind the shocking experiences that cops have to face will be able to see the value of this work.The depth and breadth of the story offer completely new ideas for how police work affects the human mind and just how difficult it can be to get up in the morning and put the suit back on. The strength, respect, and discipline it takes to perform in this line of duty is understated without the perspective of this hard-hitting memoir.