Just two-and-a-half years after the publication of Cop in the Hood, (the academic world can move at a glacial pace) the American Journal of Sociology reviewed Cop in the Hood. Well worth the wait, I'd say, as the review by Profesor Andrew Papachristos is very favorable: "Ethographic chutzpah.... Perhaps the best sociological account on what it means to police a modern ghetto.... Tells a great story." Of course it's deeper than that:
While Cop in the Hood contributes to several debates within urban sociology and criminology, the book’s greatest contribution is the demystification of police and police culture. Moskos describes his fellow officers not as power-hungry, thrill-seeking bullies, but as a well-meaning yet frustrated lot who marshal their own foibles and strengths to cope with unique job conditions and ambiguous political and legal decrees.Like any author, I'm always very pleased to have my book praised for what it is rather knocked down for what it isn't. But I really appreciate how very well Papachristos (I'm assuming he felt no undue pressure from the Greek mafia, but I do owe him a souvlaki) captured and appreciated exactly what I was trying to do. It's an extremely well written and concise review.
In fact, I think he makes some of my points better than I do.
Full access to police sources leaves readers with a simple yet important finding: just like those neighborhood residents whom they “serve and protect,” police devise complex ways to administer formal and informal social control as they negotiate social mandates, individual morality, professional obligations, and personal networks. To be sure, Cop in the Hood is no apologia for police, nor does it dismiss the harsh consequences of the war on drugs. Instead, it offers a candid investigation of the day-to-day arenas in which legal policies are enacted as well as the power afforded to those charged with enforcing the law. The end result is perhaps the best sociological account on what it means to police a modern ghetto.If you couldn't follow that (yes, Gotti, I'm thinking of you), don't worry. But you can read the whole review here.
The interesting point here is that while academics might wish to employ our chic cultural rhetoric to make sense of police behavior, cops have a rather clear notion of culture and crime that they use to explain both crime and their individual and professional responses to it. The task for the academic reader, then, is to figure out ways to rectify our own valued nomenclature with the empirical reality described by Moskos.