Cop in the Hood

Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District

With a new afterword by the author PETER MOSKOS
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Cop in the Hood
    Book Description:

    When Harvard-trained sociologist Peter Moskos left the classroom to become a cop in Baltimore's Eastern District, he was thrust deep into police culture and the ways of the street--the nerve-rattling patrols, the thriving drug corners, and a world of poverty and violence that outsiders never see.In Cop in the Hood, Moskos reveals the truths he learned on the midnight shift.

    Through Moskos's eyes, we see police academy graduates unprepared for the realities of the street, success measured by number of arrests, and the ultimate failure of the war on drugs. In addition to telling an explosive insider's story of what it is really like to be a police officer, he makes a passionate argument for drug legalization as the only realistic way to end drug violence--and let cops once again protect and serve. In a new afterword, Moskos describes the many benefits of foot patrol--or, as he calls it, "policing green."

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3226-2
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Departed
    (pp. 1-18)

    Most days I don’t miss being a cop; being a professor is a better job. But I do miss working with people willing to risk their life for me. And as a police officer, I would risk my life for others, even for those I didn’t know, and even those I knew I didn’t like. That’s part of the job. As a professor, my colleagues are great, but there’s not a single person at John Jay College of Criminal Justice I would die for. It’s not that I wish teaching were more dangerous, but there is something about danger and...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Back to School: The Police Academy
    (pp. 19-37)

    Just before I started at the Baltimore police academy, as I unceremoniously collected my first installment of police uniform and equipment in two large black plastic garbage bags, one quartermaster officer warned me that everything I would learn in the academy is “bullshit.”¹ The second quartermaster officer said it was a shame to see kids raised by parents who couldn’t raise them, with chicken bones and garbage all over the house, and have it all paid for by the taxpayer. He said, “I don’t want to name any ‘nationalities,’ you can figure out what I’m talking about.” “You ain’t going...

  6. CHAPTER 3 New Jack: Learning to Do Drugs
    (pp. 38-63)

    After the police academy, the first two months policing are spent in “field training.” Trainees in full uniform and with the power of arrest patrol with more experienced officers, “field training officers,” in less desirable districts. New police officers learn quickly. The full immersion of police patrol in the ghetto is in marked contrast to the isolation of the police academy. Readily apparent are drug addicts roaming the streets, drug dealers, families broken apart, urban blight, rats, and trash-filled alleys. Inside homes, things are often worse.

    For most white and many black police officers, field training is the first extended...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Corner: Life on the Streets
    (pp. 64-88)

    The drug-dealing block is a buzz of constant activity. Dealers hawk their wares, customers come and go, and addicts roam the street hustling for their next hit. Occasionally a police car will appear and the street crowd will disperse, slowly walking away from the police car. Being too fast or too slow can make one a conspicuous mark for police attention. So people walk, shuffle, and roll with a well-practiced nonchalance. Soon after the appearance of a police car, the street will be deserted. When the police car leaves, the crowd returns.

    The Eastern District’s 45,000 residents account for over...

  8. CHAPTER 5 911 Is a Joke
    (pp. 89-110)

    A fourteen-year-old holds six orange-topped vials of crack cocaine in his pocket.¹ He sits with two older friends, ages sixteen and seventeen, on the marble stoop of an East Baltimore row home at 1 AM.² It is a cool and quiet school night. All three wear white T-shirts, baggy jeans below their waists, and brown Timberland shoes. All three have criminal records.

    A run-down car drives slowly down a residential street lined with both well-kept and boarded-up row homes. The sixteen-year-old gets up, holds up his pants with his right hand, and motions with his left to hail a “hack,”...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Under Arrest: Discretion in the Ghetto
    (pp. 111-157)

    I received the call for suspected physical child abuse. A juvenile said he was beaten by his guardian and locked out of the house. This “juvenile” was himself a father, a tough seventeen-year-old who had been drinking. His name was James and his fifty-two-year-old grandmother, Amelia, was his legal guardian. James’s mother bounced between rehab and jail and, according to the guardian, played a very minor role in her children’s upbringing. As legal guardian, Miss Amelia was responsible for James until his eighteenth birthday, still a few months away. Until then, James had every legal right to be in that...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Prohibition: Al Capone’s Revenge
    (pp. 158-183)

    People from all social classes take drugs because drugs can make you feel better. Adults can drink at bars or smoke cigarettes at home. Some abuse legal prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs is dangerous and widespread but engenders little public violence. Undoubtedly Rush Limbaugh’s neighborhood remains a safe place to live because he allegedly bought his drugs inside his own home. Nobody advocates prohibition of painkillers simply because they’re ripe for abuse. Those who can’t afford prescriptions may self-medicate on cheaper illegal drugs. But most drug deals remain peaceful. The sale of all legal and regulated drugs is violence...

  11. EPILOGUE School Daze
    (pp. 184-196)

    Handcuffs define police officers and their relation to society. Police authority comes primarily and legally from an officer’s ability to detain and arrest. People may ask, beg, cajole, order, and even threaten, but the function of police ultimately lies in the “. . . or else!” of a police order. In his classic 1970 article, “The Functions of Police in Modern Society,” Egon Bittner argued that police are best understood as “distributors of coercive force.” In Bittner’s time, street justice was standard operating procedure. Police were quick with a blackjack and could shoot a fleeing felon. While police still use...

    (pp. 197-212)

    Baltimore’s population decline seems to have finally leveled off, sticking around 630,000. My old Greektown neighborhood in the Southeast, thanks to an influx of Hispanic immigrants, has more taquerias than souvlaki joints. The city is on its sixth police commissioner since 1999, but crime may at last be headed in the right direction. The year 2008 saw 234 homicides, the lowest figure in decades and a big drop from 2007. In the past six years three police officers have been killed. That’s still three too many but much better than the toll of seven police officers who gave their lives...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 213-232)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-256)
  15. Index
    (pp. 257-263)