A journalist investigates the evolution of technology in policing, arguing that supposedly transformative technologies adopted by law enforcement have actually made policing lazier, more reckless, and more discriminatory.
...[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.