Featuring Colby College Professor Neil Gross and Baltimore Banner journalist and author Justin Fenton. Neil and Justin discuss Neil’s new book, Walk the Walk: How Three Police Chiefs Defied the Odds and Changed Cop Culture, which Niskanen senior fellow Matthew Yglesias called, “a refreshing break from our hyper-polarized debate over public safety and criminal justice reform.” They’re joined by Eric Jones, one of the subjects of Neil’s book. Eric recently retired as Chief of Police for the Stockton, California Police Department, and is now the Deputy County Executive for Public Safety and Justice of Sacramento County, CA.


Neil Gross

Colby College

Justin Fenton

Baltimore Banner

Eric Jones

Sacramento County, CA

About the book

From “one of the most interesting sociologists of his generation” and a former cop, the story of three departments and their struggle to change aggressive police culture and achieve what Americans want: fair, humane, and effective policing.

What should we do about the police? After the murder of George Floyd, there’s no institution more controversial: only 14 percent of Americans believe that “policing works pretty well as it is” (CNN, April 27, 2021). We’re swimming in proposals for reform, but most do not tackle the aggressive culture of the profession, which prioritizes locking up bad guys at any cost, loyalty to other cops, and not taking flak from anyone on the street. Far from improving public safety, this culture, in fact, poses a danger to citizens and cops alike.

Walk the Walk brings readers deep inside three unusual departments—in Stockton, California; Longmont, Colorado; and LaGrange, Georgia—whose chiefs signed on to replace that aggressive culture with something better: with models focused on equity before the law, social responsibility, racial reconciliation, and the preservation of life. Informed by research, unflinching and by turns gripping, tragic, and inspirational, this book follows the chiefs—and their officers and detectives—as they conjured a new spirit of policing. While every community faces unique challenges with police reform, Walk the Walk opens a window onto what the police could be, if we took seriously the charge of creating a more just America.

Find the book here.