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by Peter Moskos

August 18, 2008

Real Police

I just received this email. It's an interesting take on on the concept of being "real police." "Real police" is both a concept and a compliment. It's what in the NYPD they call a "cop's cop." Also, when you actually say "real police," you have to stress "real" and the first syllable of "police." Otherwise it doesn't make sense.
I find the resentment over your book interesting. I would like to focus on the retired Major from the city who refuses to read it. I am very much "real police," but I am not entirely sure my 4.5 years as a Baltimore City officer would qualify as "experience" according to this commander (I now have an additional 2 years in [***] police department). I guess you have to inefficiently manage a district and treat subordinates poorly in order to qualify for "real" experience in Baltimore City ... a little cynicism I had to add.

Experience, in my humble opinion, does not have a definitive time frame; rather, it’s how you use your time while you are there. An officer can lazily choose to sit in their patrol car for a year, answer calls for service, never act proactively and consider that experience. Or that officer can choose to commit to hard work, be aggressive and gain the experience sought after by many. However, whether aggressive or not, I think it is accurate to say the average officer has a certain level of comfort for the job after one year.

Personally, I worked hard for two years in patrol which opened up the door for two years in flex. I have great experience, particularly in the field of drug work. Do I know everything? No. But I was able to handle myself efficiently and safely on the street. But then again, according to certain police, experience is seemingly based solely upon your sequence number, not in what you do.

Finally, I'd like to address a quote from his letter. The Major writes, "... that is why your book upsets real police; ... when some opportunist such as yourself, exploits a mere year of service, converting it in some way to confer expertise on his puny observations, which were subsequently recorded for future use and gain!"

Again, I am "real police" and I am not upset. I thought the book was a great read. I felt your writings were fundamentally correct based upon YOUR observations and experiences in the city. If the Major would have read your book, he would understand your reason for coming to the city and for the book. From my perspective, it was research which turned into hands-on experience. What better way to do research than that? What is with the major's anger with officers (in general it seems) coming to the city and leaving after a short period, to better themselves or perhaps even, dare I say, write a book. Countless officer's come to Baltimore to gain experience and leave.

I cannot apologize for being unwilling to wallow in the disastrous Baltimore City Police Department and that complete hole of a city. Individuals like the Major are one reason (among the countless others) I cannot wait to leave law enforcement. When I am done with my graduate studies at [***], I am out the door not looking back!

I enjoy the blog. I'm sure I'll continue to comment on what I read from time to time.

Respectfully,
[***]

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