...[an] incisive, muckraking exposé of the 'police industrial complex' ... Stroud [is]...an investigative journalist with an eye for detail ... The lesson of 'Thin Blue Lie,' however, is that looking to technology to solve the problems of policing is usually a hollow hope.
Thin Blue Lie documents in great detail the evolution of the Taser as a tool in modern policing, and Stroud presents a convincing argument that its manufacturers didn’t operate in good faith when it came to the reliability or safety of their product ... A significant difficulty with the book is that Stroud researched and wrote it from the outside. Relying on countless news articles, web posts, and a few interviews with carefully selected individuals, he makes no attempt to capture the point of view of law enforcement, except to document instances where they publicly supported a tool that failed in one way or another ... His only concession to objectivity is to quote Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California at Davis ... Joh’s thesis, that technological advances in policing should be subject to oversight, that legal standards should be set for investigative techniques that use these technologies, and that vendors should have a lesser role, represents a balanced, commonsensical position that’s missing from Stroud’s polemic, which implies that the whole thing should be thrown out. Immediately. At the end of the day, Thin Blue Lie fails to convince ... The book is subjective, it’s written in a tone that’s cynical, accusatory, and often bitter, and it’s uneven to the point of feeling rushed and incomplete. A thin blue failure.
Though Stroud’s lengthy discussions about the financial hurdles faced by stun gun manufacturers become tiresome, on the whole, the author writes clearly and compellingly, and he shows how some companies oversold their technologies to police based on a desperation for profits ... A useful book. Wisely, Stroud never loses sight of an overriding reality: that technology is never a substitute for compassionate policing based on trust between cops and the citizens they are paid to serve.
Investigative reporter Stroud delivers a rousing condemnation of 'technological solutionism' in police departments ... Stroud opines that technological solutions in policing, while perhaps useful, will not address the underlying cultural deficit in empathy and compassion among police. This is a meticulous and fascinating study.