Black Cop: My 36 Years in Police

Book review, Ottawa Life Magazine

by Emma Dykstra.

Black Cop: My 36 Years in Police Work, and My Career-Ending Experience with Official Racism by Calvin Lawrence

Calvin Lawrence

When Calvin Lawrence joined the Halifax City Police in 1969, he wanted to make a difference. There was growing tension in the city between the black community and the police and Lawrence believed that as a black police officer he could be a positive force for both the police and the community.

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But what he didn’t know was that he was embarking on a life-long career in which he would consistently be the target of racist behavior — from his co-workers and his superiors and from police organizations as a whole. Lawrence describes how he was the target of racial slurs, mocked for being black, pigeonholed into roles and denied advancement because he was not white. After 36 years in law enforcement, he retired early from the police suffering from clinical depression. He would later be awarded a settlement from the RCMP after winning a Human Rights complaint.

Lawrence holds nothing back as he reflects on a career that took him across the country. He shares his experiences as Newfoundland’s only black police officer, his undercover stints in Edmonton and Toronto and his time in Ottawa protecting major world leaders like Jimmy Carter and Brian Mulroney.

Calvin Lawrence’s story lays bare the key failures of Canadian police organizations across the country who continue to operate outside the law from within by not respecting officers from minority communities and who cheapen the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights by not applying the highest standards to their own code of conduct. His book is a blunt and shocking expose on the ignorance and prejudice that still exists in many of Canada’s law enforcement operations. He points out many things that need to be changed. The issue is whether or not that change will come. This book is must read for anyone who works in the criminal justice system in Canada, students in criminology or those who are considering whether or not to go into policing as a career.

Black Cop can be purchased online at Audible, Barnes and Nobles, Walmart eBooks, Apple Books, Google Play, and Indigo.

By: Emma Dykstra

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