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by Peter Moskos

April 21, 2008

Hate mail (2.2)

This conversation starts a few posts down. Here's the latest:
I have read excerpts from your "book" and frankly sir, "YOU HAVE NOT PAID ENOUGH DUES TO BE CONVERSANT IN POLICE WORK". I think that your PHD impresses only you. It certainly does not impress me. As a Sgt, I had College grads working for me ( I am not one myself) and had to correct their misspelled, mispunctuated, sloppy, reports. It was laughable. One such " Grad" lost a $100 bet to me because he was so convinced that construction 'Site' was spelled "sight".
You sound like the usual liberal Academia, which has been the problem, not the solution to the type of recruits the Dept is getting.
I do not know which years you were on the dept, but I started in 62' when there were no walkie talkies, mace, issued handcuffs, and you had to WALK an arrestee blocks to get to a call box. Not to mention 60 year old .38 cal revolvers with ammo that you could actually see the bullet fly when you fired them.
P.S. I worked in the Eastern District for 4 years as a Sgt and it was a busy district, but not the combat zone you describe. Of course I had Officers working for me that were tough, street smart cops who did not have to resort to sociology to get the job done.
Before one "talks the talk", they should have "walked the walk"
I don't think you should be expecting "Pulitzer" to be calling soon.
[name removed] Sgt ( ret) BCPD..

My response:
Sgt [******],
First of all, I appreciate you writing me with the dignity of a full name and an email. I will talk to any man, man-to-man. I respect that.

But again, you seem to be reading too much into me without knowing me.

I never say police should be college grads (which seems to be your sore point). Just please don't hold it against me for having a PhD. It doesn't make me a worse person. Really. And it does allow me to get a great job teaching in college.

My book stands on my analysis and description of policing, not my degree.

You were real po-lice. Actually, if anything, my point is that we need more police like you. Police should be able to police like you did: no radio, no mace, and walking prisoners back to the District. I'm not making fun of you. I'm totally serious. You knew how to make a good arrest and walk that prisoner back without getting your ass kicked. It's not [that you] coddled bad guys. I'm sure you didn't. But you were able to gain the respect of people you policed because you knew who the bad guys were. That's what policing is all about. That's what may be lacking today. That's my point! But of course you don't know my point. You just think I'm a prick with a college degree. If you still think that after reading my book, that's your business.

You might actually find that we have a lot in common. I don't know what else to say. If you don't read my book, I have nothing else to say. I don't want to waste my time writing what is in my book. I mean, I've already written it. That's my book.

I'm politically liberal and I'm sure you're politically conservative. But we're probably less far off in our beliefs than you want to think.

One other question. I'm not telling, I'm asking... but I don't think the E.D. was a combat zone when you were patrolling it. Probably because you were doing a good job. I think the worst years were in the late 1980s and late 1990s.

Professor Peter Moskos
Dept. of Law and Police Science
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
899 10th Ave, Room 422
New York, NY 10019


Anonymous said...

In context, I'm having a hard time parsing this sentence: "It's not the coddled bad guys." Are there any words missing there? And if so, you might not be scoring as many points as you might like. On the other hand, I wonder if this guy might resent you just as much if you write your letters too well.

And including the big signature block with "Professor" in it probably doesn't help you build rapport with insecure non-college-grads.

I think this conversation you're having is interesting, but I wonder what you're hoping to accomplish with it.

PCM said...

I meant, "It's not *that you* coddled bad guys." Thanks for pointing that out.

I don't really care if he resents me. I do find it amusing, however, that he would resent anybody so much and yet be so wrong about me and my intentions.

I don't really know what I hope to accomplish. I'd like him to read my book and think some of his preconceptions over.

Partly, I think it makes the blog more interesting to put in negative comments.

Partly, people who write blustery hate mail rarely expect a reply. I like the fact that since I'm not a police officer anymore, I don't have to stand at attention and salute every malaka who has passed the Sergeant's exam and wears stripes or bars. There's an I'm-talking-down-to-you bluster in his writing that makes me smile. It's rarely a great leadership quality. And I'm not easily cowed.

Partly, for all this guy's bluster, he probably was a better cop than many of the kids today. I respect that. I think police would be better if they could patrol without radio and car. There really is something to learn from him, even if his style (and his LARGE red type doesn't come through on the blog) doesn't really help.

Partly, I like having exchanges with people I disagree with. Politically, that would be all my friends in Baltimore. I don't learn from discussions with people who think the same thing I do.

There's a righteous conservative anger among many police that I still don't fully understand. I know you don't have to be a morally righteous conservative (angry or not) to be a good police officer. He probably disagrees. I really do want to know what makes this guy tick.

Partly, I think other people probably think the same things as this guy, but don't have the balls enough to write. So I do like to refute his assumptions, since others are probably sharing them as well.

Partly, I thinks he represents a certain type of police officer. He presents himself much more effectively than I ever could. I'm hoping he can rise to the challenge of a polite intellectual discussion. If so, we all benefit. If not, I'd just as soon give him some rope and let him do what he wants with it.