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"Black and Blue" examines divide between police and black communities

CBS News' Jeff Pegues, who has extensive experience covering police and community relations across the country, is taking an in-depth look at the "divide between the police and black America" in his new book, "Black and Blue."


"Part of my reasoning for doing this book is to get to the heart of the issue, expose it and then allow people to discuss it in an open way," Pegues, the network's justice and homeland security correspondent, said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

Pegues interviewed police chiefs, activists, and many others on all sides of the complex issue. "The different views of policing — whether you're talking to someone in the black community or police officers in the rank-and-file — it is stark," he said, adding that views of policing in the black community "are certainly shaped by the stops that people on the streets encounter with police."

"For example in Baltimore, it was found that 44 percent of the police stops were made where 11 percent of the population was, and that was primarily the black community," Pegues said. "So there is this emphasis on policing and tough policing in the black community on the part of police departments and that's what we were seeing across the country. And that sort of drives these different viewpoints of policing whether you're talking to someone who is white versus someone who is black." 

He also spoke to rank-and-file police officers "who were blunt" about how they felt.

"They talk about feeling overworked, under-appreciated. 'We can't solve your psychosis. We can't raise your kids. We are asked to do too much.' So that is reflected in the book," Pegues said. "But also on the other side you have people in the black community who feel they're being treated like livestock, rounded up, thrown in jail. Or penalized for minor infractions which leads to a cycle, it can lead to a cycle of poverty. There's a real problem here."

While having a black police chief can make a difference, Pegues said that's not the entire story.

"It's really the approach more than the race of the police chief," he said.

Transparency is key, including the use of body cameras for cops.

"That's why you see so many police chiefs across this country moving towards body cameras, because they know transparency is important," Pegues said. "Also cracking down on the bad cops. There are a lot of good cops out there: 99.9 percent of the cops are good. And they don't want the bad cops in the ranks. But they're being painted with this broad brush. So I wanted to dispel that myth, too, in this book and present both sides from good cops, people in the community, both trying to make change." 

In addition to transparency, Pegues pointed to officers who are engaging with the community they police, whether they are playing soccer with people in the neighborhood or break-dancing with the kids.

"You can't show up [only] when there's a shooting. Go there before the shooting," he said.

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