Book Review: The Red Dot Club (Robert Rangel, 2014)

I picked up a copy of this e-book when it was recommended by Greg Ellifritz (Active Response Training blog).

The Red Dot Club is a series of first-hand accounts of gunfights – shooting others and being shot (getting a “red dot”) told by police officers, mostly from Southern California. The accounts are very detailed, with emphasis on what the officers thought and felt before, during and after the incidents. It’s not a book that provides “lessons learned” or after action analysis, nor does it discuss tactics for avoidance or tactics for winning in the incidents.

The main theme of the book, if there is one, is to give the reader better perspective on violence and how it affects the participants – physically and psychologically. Author Robert Rangel served 13 years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and medically retired after multiple on-duty injuries, working executive protection, bank security, and doing civilian investigation work for a police department. That varied career provided him many encounters with those that had been involved in shooting incidents, enabling him to compile their stories into this book.

When we discuss deadly force incidents, I comment to my students that I have never talked to anyone that’s been in one that said “that was exciting and fun and I’d like to do that again”. Their stories are much more like the ones in this book: darker with more regret. Since most of the stories are set in the Los Angeles/Southern California area, it also provides insight about the drug and gang culture of that area, from the police perspective.

You can purchase the book from Amazon here. Rangel wrote a follow up book, The Red Dot Club Victim’s Voices, which was released in 2018. I purchased a copy of that e-book and will be reading it sometime this month.