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by Peter Moskos

May 12, 2008

Never lose sight...

I received this email today. It’s worth reading. I wish all police officers wrote so well. I wish all my students wrote so well. Too bad he's not my student.

Some small police department’s gain was surely Baltimore’s loss.

I recently finished the first chapter of your book, Cop in the Hood and found it to be completely on point with my experiences as a Baltimore City police officer. I ordered it online and cannot wait to read it cover to cover. I also read your work, “Two Shades of Blue." As for me, I am a white […] conservative male […] hired by the Baltimore City Police after graduating college with a Bachelor’s in criminal justice. As of 2007, I am enrolled in graduate school while working full-time in a small police department in Pennsylvania.
Baltimore City left an indelible mark on my personal and professional opinion of urban life and policing. I will treasure the time I worked in the city for I will never experience it again. You have put to paper what I have so inadequately attempted to express to people about life as a Baltimore City police officer and life in the “ghetto.” Unless experienced firsthand, no one can fathom what it is like to be an officer there.

Over the course of my time in the city, I was involved in over 550 drug arrests, mainly crack cocaine and heroin. […] I laugh sometimes when I contrast the massive amount of arrests I made in Baltimore […] with the incidents I deal with now. Working in a small area, I am perpetually bored with the “crime” (underage drinking, broken windows, and loud music) I encounter. […] Needless to say, I miss being “a real cop.”

Aside from being a fellow officer, there is a particular reason why you have my gained my respect. […] I have a great deal of respect for academia (I myself am working towards my Master’s), but after going through college and spending 4 years in Baltimore, I realize those professors, outside of their office, are limited in their knowledge of actual police work. I learned this as soon as I hit the streets. Among the topics I once was taught and naively believed to be true include community policing and the drug war. I believe, as so many others, community policing is ineffective and the drug war will never be won.

I have particular respect for you because you lived what you researched. You teach and write from experience. I believe if you are to teach on a subject, you must have real world experience and a good knowledge base. Obviously this is my opinion and I mean no disrespect to any colleagues of yours or to any other person in academia. But I believe this to be true, especially since so few venture into police work. Even though you were on the street a little over a year, one year spent in the city is a career anywhere else.

I appreciate the candor in your work and I look forward to reading more of your literature. Keep up the good work and please never lose sight of what those officers, and all police for that matter, do on a daily basis. Thank you for your time.

No, sir, thank you!

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