Bullet Riddled by Grant M. Whitus

An autobiography by Grant Whitus (with Thom Vines). Grant was a SWAT member in Colorado and one of the responders at Columbine, as well as numerous other incidents that happened in his district. Bullet Riddled is what he learned, not only as a SWAT member but also its leader. The author also has some good insights into what it takes to fight crime in the US right now.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Bullet riddledTitleBullet Riddled
AuthorGrant M. Whitus
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: September 1, 2016
Genre: Memoir
Source: From the publisher at BEA 16

Publisher’s Description: Grant Whitus joined the Colorado S.W.A.T in 1992. His seventeen year career was one of constant headlines. Among leading countless drug raids and hostage situations, he was on the front lines of the Columbine Massacre, The Platte County Tragedy, the Albert Petrosky shooting, and the Granby tank rampage.

Speaking for the first time, Whitus gives the unvarnished truth of those, and many other, major S.W.A.T operations. Now retired, he opens up about his time behind the shield. Bullet Riddled is the full unabridged disclosure of what happened during his storied career; including the brutal morning of the Columbine Massacre.

More than just a retelling, Bullet-Riddled is an in-depth look at the day-to-day of S.W.A.T and focuses on the men and women who inherit so much pain to keep us safe. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy. The following days saw major changes within S.W.A.T. Men cracked, leaders folded and the entire country demanded changes.

But these changes, like all reforms, met with stiff resistance from the old guard. Friendships turned into rivals and the infrastructure of S.W.A.T began to unravel. As resignations piled up, Grant rebuilt the entire team from hand-selected recruits. He finally had his elite team, one that would face new demons and disorders.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

Things I Did Like: This is a good, quick read. As I said in the intro, this is an autobiography by a twenty-five year law enforcement veteran—first as a sheriff, then a SWAT member, then its leader—Grant Whitus. It starts out with a nice excerpt on things to come then backs up and goes mostly linear from there. The author talks about how he got into law enforcement, some of the things they did, such as stopping drugs going through the state, and what he learned. In short order, he is on the SWAT team when Columbine happens.

I had not read much about Columbine so to read about it from someone who was there was very informative. It was also quite scary, which I think was the point. The book walks us through what the author and his team did, from first response, arrival at the school, checking the school, and then finally finding the ones behind it. There is a debrief chapter where it talks about what happened and what they learned.

The rest of the book, then, is stories of other incidents that happened. More than that, though, it’s a treatise on how crime has changed in America—even as crime has gone down—and how it must be dealt with is different today. The book is unapologetic in its frank look at crime and what must be done when criminals have tanks, sniper rifles, explosives, and assault rifles. The author makes a very good case why the tactics he used, both in recruitment and in operations, were necessary. After reading the book, I agree with his conclusions.

Things I Didn’t Like: Even though this book is autobiographical, and therefore the author’s thoughts and feelings are relevant, the book also seems to want to explain why we need the team the author created. When incidents are laid out like a debriefing and the author can take a step back from it and talk about it logically, it works and it works well.

However, there are a few chapters where the author is reacting out of anger. While he deserves to be angry, “hearing” that anger as a reader shows me the downside to his job. The downsides are mentioned later, but downplayed too much, in my opinion, when the author says that the job became his life so much that he had to sacrifice his family life.

Further, one incident got aired on the internet and that caused many team member’s family lives to be ruined. It also led to the team pulling itself apart as each member went their own way. The author does say there is no good solution for this, in terms of how to have a team ready to respond to violence and be in violent situations, but also have “normal” lives. It’s not possible, and I think downplaying that is a disservice to readers.  We need to understand what we, as society, ask of our police officers (and military). I think this needs to be highlighted, not downplayed, so that support structures are created and we examine how we can help those who do this job, every bit as much as we examine how we must react to crime and criminals differently.

badge4v4This book kept me engaged and I’ve gotten into several interesting discussions on this topic. If anyone is interested in reading about Columbine or what it takes to fight home grown “terrorists,” this is a book that will explain it well along with the toll it takes on us all.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


About Percy Procrastinator

I'll get to it

Posted on August 24, 2016, in Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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