Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice by Adam Bereki. Costa Mesa: Spartan Associates, 2010.
Reviewed by Daniel C. Tsang
Special to the Surf City Voice
I made the mistake of initially dismissing as a flimsy account Adam Bereki’s slim (160-page) personal narrative about being drummed out of the Huntington Beach Police Department because of his sexual orientation . But on re-reading his book, Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice, I came to realize that his book is a stunning indictment of what the author perceived as the deep machismo, laced with homophobia, of the Surf City’s police department
Current Police Chief Ken Small, who headed the department during Bereki’s short tenure, is quick to dismiss (in the Orange County Register) Bereki’s work as “fiction”. Yet Bereki tells a believable if horrifying story where truth is stranger than fiction, such as when a trusted mentor turned on him by simulating anal sex with him during police training exercises and another fellow cop made jokes about it being his “day off” when someone was reported masturbating in public. He also got demerits for being gung ho about police work, thus putting his lazier fellow cops to shame. In fact, his personnel evaluations miraculously shot up when he briefly slacked off and in his own recounting, did what many other cops did: read a book, sit under a tree, or browsed the Internet during work hours. Bereki also claims most cops file reports that are never acted upon; more than once, he felt tempted to tell crime victims that dark secret.
Bereki, passionate about police work since he started in the Explorer program as a teenager, went to police academy and was initially welcomed into his hometown police department. But soon rumors of his sexual preference began spreading, especially after his housemate, a cop whom Bereki viewed as his mentor, “Junior,” found him in bed with another guy, who was actually a fellow gay cop, “Justin,” from Laguna Beach Police Department . It didn’t matter that the two were zonked out drunk after a night on the town in L.A. The mentor went to the “police association’s bar and told everybody the story.” His tormentor would later scream at him, according to Bereki, saying: “I don’t want gay rumors or roommates in this house. I don’t know where you and Brad have been doing up in LA, but that’s where all the fags go.” Brad was another friend of Bereki’s. Continue reading Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice (Book Review)