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Book Review: Uniform Decisions by John Caprarelli

Uniform Decisions follows the career of John Caprarelli, a police officer for the LAPD. though in many ways his story is similar to a great number of officers before and since, a single event sets apart his career: the LA shootout with the infamous armored bank robbers. 

John reconstructs the entire shooting from research and interviews with his fellow officers. He retells many parts we knew, about the criminals being armed with AK47 variants, as well as how their car was immediately disabled and they were forced to go on foot. Some information was not as well known such as how one robber attempted to carjack some citizens vehicle and how they even swapped weapons from their trunk.

The robbers had armed themselves with rifles and put in home sewn Kevlar panels to form top to bottom armor. In the era in which police officers still carried Beretta double action pistols and pump action shotguns, the extended range and power of the criminals weapons prolonged the fight significantly. The fight moved from the bank parking lot and was finally ended by patrol officers and SWAT after a slow rolling gun battle. All in all, the criminals expended over 1200 rounds and the police shot about 600 times. 

In the aftermath, John dealt with some common cognitive issues, including gaps in his memory. A veteran officer, when faced with a high level of stress, was still susceptible to time distortion and memory black outs. That should be a lesson to any of us for our own aftermath.

This event spawned a surge in canges to law enforcement training, tactics and equipment. Patrol rifle programs were started across the country in the following years. The officer survival training program and vehicle shooting programs flourished. Officers developed small team strategies to handle similar incidents. One incident changed an entire professions direction.

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