Q: What do violence, addiction, death and dying, interrogations and predators have in common?

A: They are all the topics of chapters in Adam Plantinga's new book “Police Craft: What Cops Know About Crime, Community and Violence.” Plantinga, who is a San Francisco Police Department Sergeant, is following up his acclaimed first book “400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman” with another book spilling the beans on what law enforcement knows about communities, crime and violence.

Plantinga was on hand at the Ridge Writers' meeting Thursday, reading from his book and taking questions from the packed room. So enthusiastic was the audience that eventually questions had to be cut off to allow Plantinga to rest his voice. Plantinga took on topics ranging from his own experiences and difficulties faced by cops to the time his old partner in Milwaukee arrested Jeffrey Dahmer.

He also spoke to the club several years ago about his first book.

Given his topic, it's no surprise that Plantinga's book contains hardcore subject matter. What may be unexpected, however, is the humanizing touch he brings to these tough topics. Plantinga paints cops as human beings doing their best to tackle the gritty reality of crime without losing their compassion for the human beings involved.

Also perhaps surprising is the human toll this occupation takes on the law enforcement officers themselves. Plantinga's book goes into this as well.

A chapter called “The Corner,” for example, describes the grittiest, more crime-ridden corner he says exists in every city – the place so bad “even the vermin want out.”

Plantinga describes it as follows: “The corner is where crime, commerce, and urban despair all mingle, with an undercurrent of street theater . . . Watch your step on the corner because the sidewalk is lined with broken beer bottles, Moonpie wrappers, feces both human and animal and the occasional 9mm shell casing that the cops missed in their search last night . . .”

What distinguishes Plantinga's book is the matter-of-fact compassion he reveals for some of the offenders who frequent such a location. He notes that “people languish on the corner because they lack the two things that adults need in order to thrive” which he says are a “stable living situation” and full-time activities such as school, work or child care which keep people too busy to get into much trouble at the end of the day. He also notes that some of these people know no one who has a job other than the police officers themselves.

This was one of the chapters Plantinga read from at the Ridge Writers meeting. He also touched on frequently asked questions and took questions from the group.

He said most police departments do not have quotas. “The police do not arrest or cite to fill quotas. There are folks who get cash for every arrest they make. Those people are called bounty hunters.” He added that in California ticket quotas are illegal.

One interesting question asked Plantinga if he has ever encountered a serial killer. Plantinga, who used to work in Milwaukee, said he never has but his old Milwaukee partner did.

Plantinga said his partner in Milwaukee arrested a serial killer after a “roll-around fight in a small apartment, a subsequent search of which revealed the remains of 11 corpses.” The suspect arrested by Plantinga's partner was none other than Jeffrey Dahmer.

For those who want to know, he said his pick for best cop show is “The Wire.” “LA Confidential” is his favorite cop movie and the best song about cops in his opinion is “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen.

He also said he wrote his first book before he had children and the second book while commuting to and from work on BART, San Francisco's public transit system.

Plantinga's work has been well-reviewed and has even received attention from luminaries such as Dr. Phil – who had Plantinga as a guest on his new podcast series “Phil in the Blanks.” For the record, Plantinga described Dr. Phil as nice and funny.

Other answers: Plantinga said, like the vast majority of cops, he has not personally ever shot anyone.

He also answered a question about changing attitudes toward law enforcement. Plantinga said that 20 years ago a jury would tend to automatically believe a police officer on the stand but that this is not the case anymore. He attributed the lack of public trust to cases of officers caught lying or body cameras showing something different than the police report.

“We have been our own worst enemy at times,” he said. “We have lost some public trust and we have to fight to get that back. I think body cameras are going to help us with that – the vast majority of the time it's going to show the cops doing the right thing.”

He also said that while he has concerns over public demonstrations potentially blocking traffic or being disruptive, in general he thinks the Black Lives Matter movement “is a pretty low bar,” presumably meaning a reasonable philosophy.

“They are not saying black lives are the only ones that matter. They are just saying we want to be treated equally, we want equal justice under the law. And that's what we should do, so that's alright with me,” he said.

Both of Plantinga's books are available on Amazon.com.

Ridge Writers is part of the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. For more information see CWC-RidgeWriters.org or search on RIDGEWRITERS on Facebook.