The gritty streets of a Florida county
Clicking a microphone, that simple act of keying the transmit button may seem like an innocuous, mechanical process devoid of any particular meaning to most people, but to Bruce Hoffman and to thousands of law enforcement officers across the country, it is anything but. In fact, clicking a mic oftentimes carries a deeper meaning and purpose. It is about expressing raw emotion in a subtle and non-verbal manner. The static click sound made by keying the microphone may mean approval, happiness, anger, sadness…even grief.
Bruce Hoffman captures these emotions and much more in his autobiographical book, aptly named Clicking Mics. Hoffman traces a 27-year career with the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. His was a career that spanned the time he left the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968 to his retirement as a captain. Nestled in between are 175 anecdotes and stories about his life on the gritty streets of a Florida county that included Tampa and St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast of the state’s peninsula.
The author takes the reader on a historical journey that includes plenty of the expected – drugs, sexual crimes, violence and other seedier elements of society – but also the unexpected. Hoffman gives behind-the-scenes access to the politics and drama of police work, pulling back the veil on what most people assume, but don’t always see, goes on in the life of an officer as he climbs the ranks. Clicking Mics is complete with police procedure elements neatly woven into the stories. Undercover operations, confidential informants, drug buys and busts, and so much more are all inside this compact and well-written autobiography.
There is also plenty of excitement for the crime story junkie in us all. And that is where the book’s title earns its merit. During calls the deputies would signal their reactions by a series of mic clicks. It didn’t matter if the reaction was happiness over a major drug bust gone well, or sadness over an injury or even death, the simple act of clicking the microphone button a few times conveyed it. And everyone hearing the clicks understood its meaning. Police work is known for its fraternity and the bonds that glue one officer to another. Clicking a microphone is one simple example of how that brotherhood communicates feeling and emotion without the need for spoken word.
Get a copy of Hoffman’s book, sit back, and read it for its many purposes. It tells true stories and it entertains at the same time. For someone who has never been in police work, it is revealing and enlightening. For someone who has carried a badge, you will find yourself nodding throughout the book, symbolically clicking a mic along with the author.
Reviewer: Mike Angley
In "Clicking Mics," Bruce Hoffman offers a peek behind the door of an extensive law enforcement career with 175 anecdotes of history, lessons learned, and amusing events. After returning home to Florida from the battlefields of Vietnam, Bruce traded his Marine Corps uniform for a badge and gun. Patrolling the streets of Hillsborough County is not the same as serving in a warzone, but there are some similarities-Bruce recounts stories of seeing the best and worst of humanity, describes the struggle of deciding between right and wrong when there are all too many shades of gray, and details the two instances when he experienced friendly fire from fellow cops. In addition to the serious business of police work, Bruce shares some of the amusing shenanigans of his squad and the crazy characters they encounter. In his twenty-seven years of service to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Bruce developed a distinct point of view, one that he imparts with his heartfelt and sometimes humorous stories and lessons learned from living the day-to-day highs and lows of being a law enforcement officer. *"Clicking Mics" is the winner of a Bronze Medal in the 2016 Military Writers Society of America awards memoir category.