Review: L.A. Cop: Peacemaker in Blue by Bob Vernon
Dr. Robert R. Kopp
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Belvidere, Illinois
Police Chaplain for the Belvidere Police Department and Boone County Sheriff's Department
As a pastor for over four decades, police chaplain since 1979 and for Belvidere and Boone County for the past 16 years, and adjunct professor of homiletics for two seminaries that has no relevance to this review, I've often opened my homilies at the official swearing in and promotion of law enforcement officers by saying, "I've been a Kopp all of my life."
Moretheless, it means I've developed discernments as well as charismata for the personalities, preparations, professions of faith, and prayers required for effective law enforcement; especially concomitant to these challenging times.
So It's been a privilege to read Chief Vernon's book.
Parenthetically, I was also drawn to it for two other reasons: (1) John MacArthur's foreword indicating a friendship and shared ministry with Bob; and (2) Three Sixteen Publishing's role as publisher.
The quality and care of anything published by TSP is unparalleled in my experience; and anything that attracts the attention then affirmation of John MacArthur attracts my attention and, without exception in my experience, affirmation.
If there is anyone that understands the entire Reformed and evangelical motto for ministry - ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei - it is John. He is the most trustworthy and faithful exegete, theologian, and homiletician that I have ever read or heard. He loves Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book and is among the greatest remnantal prophets of our generation. My only regret is I have never had the privilege of sitting with him and studying under him.
So when I discovered that John had written the forward, I knew I would praise God for Chief Vernon's witness to our Lord and wisdom for women and men feeling called into law enforcement along with veterans whose "peacemaking" would be founded on Jesus, guided by Jesus, focused on Jesus, and filtered by Jesus with the humbly prayerful goal to honor Him in all things at all times in all places with all people.
I was not disappointed.
Jesus was clear, compelling, and conclusive about the character required of anyone in any vocation seeking to honor and serve Him as a doulos slave - Thank you John and TSP for this accurate translation in the LSB that emphasizes obedience to Jesus upon inviting Him into the head, heart, and gut as Lord and Savior with enthusiasm and without equivocation or exception! - when He counseled disciples: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16).
Simply, Chief Vernon understands and communicates with compelling clarity the balance in leadership that Jesus said is absolutely necessary for fidelity to the law tempered by fairness and effectiveness. It requires being tough-minded yet tenderhearted and tenderhearted yet tough-minded. It means, especially for law enforcement officers in these increasingly lawless times when we are pressed to distinguish righteousness from evil, there are wonderful people in the community that can be trusted and there are predators that will hurt citizens unless protected. Here's how Bob explained that balance as he modeled Someone better for other officers: "Yet when I have yielded to His will, my relationship with Jesus Christ has not only given me the resolve and strength to stand firm, but has also given me the ability to cope and survive in a world of unusual pressures and experiences" (118).
Noting the illustrations and knowledge tempered by wisdom and submission to Jesus by the book, the particular references to the nitty-gritty of trench-life, practical counsel for rookies, and perspective and renewing for veterans means I hope this book becomes required reading for anyone contemplating and praying about a vocation in law enforcement along with those needing to step back and reflect upon their continuing call.
While speaking from his particular weltanschauung, Chief Vernon's closing confession is among the most concise yet comprehensive recipes that I've read for anyone seeking to honor God through vocation with Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 in mind: "I've got to say that my personal relationship with God has worn well. He's given me the strength I've needed to meet the anger, frustration, fears and heartache I've experienced in fulfilling the demanding role of peacemaker in blue" (153).
This will make an especially wonderful gift for the women and men in your life called to law enforcement.