After writing the portrait of an English police department in 1980, crime author James McClure asked police departments around the United States for unrestricted access to study how they work. Bill Kolender, then police chief of San Diego Police, accepted the request.

In 1985, McClure published his research in a nonfiction book called “Cop World.” Influential among law enforcement agencies, it highlighted San Diego’s progressive tactics and Kolender’s efforts to grow Community Oriented Policing programs, such as citizen patrols, which aim to grow neighborhood involvement.

At the time, a New York Times book review quipped, “Is it all a little too liberal to be true?”

Now, 25 years later, how have the department’s tactics changed since the progressive era highlighted by McClure’s book?

Former San Diego Police officer Tim Smith is writing a modern profile of the department, modeled after McClure’s research methods. As a tribute to that comparison, one of the working titles is “Cop World II.”

On Thursday, I’ll be interviewing Smith as this week’s Q&A feature. What do you think I should ask about his research and reflections of San Diego Police? Please e-mail your suggestions to and look for the interview to appear online Friday afternoon.


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