Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham have proved it is possible to offer a definitive account of a systemically corrupt police department ... Both devastating and illuminating, The Riders Come Out At Night also serves as a vibrant, clear-eyed history of Oakland politics ... It’s a compelling thesis fleshed out over 400 pages with meticulous research, scores of fresh interviews and a refusal to move on from an issue that has now outlasted four mayors, two judges, two monitoring teams and a half-dozen police chiefs. It’s an effort worthy of immense recognition — let the Pulitzer Prize buzz commence — but glittering hardware is not the authors’ ultimate goal. Instead, as the authors note in their conclusion, they want to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that police agencies are simply incapable of policing themselves ... Winston and BondGraham have delivered an air-tight argument against the “few bad apples” theory.
... an exhaustive case study of policing in the Bay Area city ... By zooming in geographically, but also stretching out their timeline... the authors conjure a sense of chronic tragedy ... While Winston and BondGraham treat some episodes with a granularity that may be of interest only to Bay Area residents, in a way this is a strength of the book: You cannot accuse these reporters of importing outside narratives to fit this community. Every city contemplating the future of its police force could use a book like this.
The book, a detailed history of Oakland told through the lens of policing, contains lots of juicy details ... At times, the detail becomes tedious and the corrupt cops indistinguishable. Winston and BondGraham intend their narrative as a cautionary tale for other cities and, ultimately, present changes undertaken by the Oakland Police Department as a success story ... 'Still corrupt after all these reforms' might not be the coda Winston and BondGraham intended.