David A. Klinger is Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice
at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He holds a BA in History from Seattle Pacific University, an MA in Justice from American
University in Washington, D.C. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to pursuing his
graduate degrees, Professor Klinger worked for three and one-half years as a patrol officer for the Los Angeles and Redmond
(WA) Police Departments. He has held research positions at the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C.; the University of Washington,
Seattle; the Washington State's Attorney's Office; and the Seattle Police Department.
According to the book description of David Klinger’s
book “What's it like to have official sanction to shoot and kill? In his often startling and sure to be controversial
new book, David Klinger who himself shot and killed a suspect during his first year as an officer on the Los Angles Police
Department answers this and many other questions about what it's like to live and work in the place where police officers
have to make split-second decisions about life and death: The Kill Zone. Based on interviews that Klinger, now a university
professor, conducted with scores of officers from around the nation who have shot people in the course of their duties, Into
the Kill Zone tells readers about how police officers are trained to use their firearms, what happens when cops find themselves
face-to-face with dangerous criminals, the excruciating decisions they have to make to shoot or to hold their fire, and how
they deal with the consequences of their choices. From academy training to post-shooting reactions, Into the Kill Zone tells
the compelling story of the role that deadly force plays in the lives of America's cops.”
One reader of Kill
Zone said, “I thought the best way to begin this review is to start by stating what "Into the Kill
Zone" is not. This book isn't: 1.) A graphic description of police shootings 2.) A psycho-social monograph on police
officers who have shot people.
This isn't to say that there
aren't elements of both of the aforementioned items contained within the book; however, those expecting copious amounts
of blood and gore should look elsewhere while those dreading a dry, academic treatise should read on.
David Klinger is a Sociologist
who teaches criminology at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. His qualifications to write on the topic of deadly force
are unique and extend beyond his CV. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Klinger was a policeman. On July 25, 1981, just 4 months
out of the Los Angeles Police Academy, 23 year old David Klinger was forced to shoot and kill a man who was attacking his
partner with a butcher's knife. As might be expected, the shooting shocked the author and ultimately changed his career
path. After another 3 years of police work, Mr. Klinger quit the force and entered graduate school. Eventually he earned his
Ph.D. and in time, got a grant from the United States Department of Justice to study the impact of shootings on officers.
The present book draws on the research.
Each of the 5 chapters of "Into
the Kill Zone" consist of stories told in the officers own words. Additionally, the chapters all deal with deadly force
in some way. Chapter 1 concerns how the officers came to choose a career in law enforcement and their thoughts on the prospect
of using deadly force prior to joining the police force. Chapter 2 is about basic training and how it affected their attitudes
vis-a-vis deadly force. Chapter 3 covers instances where officers held their fire even though shooting would have been legally
acceptable. The 4th and longest chapter deals with the actual shootings. The final chapter attempts to demonstrate what occurs
after shootings and how the shootings affect the police officers involved.
I think this book does an admirable
job of giving one insight into the often thankless and always dangerous task of policing a free society. Dr. Klinger gives
us the interviewees stories in a relatively unvarnished manner without interjecting too much of himself. The analysis that
he does provide occurs largely in the introduction, the beginning and end of chapters and the epilogue. "Into the Kill
Zone" is not intended to probe the causes of crime, explore police brutality or investigate social strife from a criminological
perspective. Instead, Dr. Klinger wants to give us at least a glimpse into the world of those tasked with serving.”