About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

August 26, 2008

Prop Joe? He Dead.

That's a Wire reference, if you don't know. There's a short Q & A about me in Vanity Fair titled "The Ivy Leaguer Who Took on Prop Joe." The art cracks me up:
While ace writer Jordan "slugger" Heller's text makes me sound so rough and blue-collar, the art just captures my naturally effeminate and pompous persona perfectly.

Hmmm, yes, indeed, I remember arresting that ruffian. It sure felt mahvalous to get that rapscallion and his dirty scowl off the street! I always carried a sweater just in case it got chilly or I needed to pat my high brow. In this arrest, I was just so thrilled that the scoundrel didn’t make me perspire (or even put out my pipe)! It was so nice to have that sketch artist capture the moment! What a dah-ling!
When Harvard-trained sociologist Peter Moskos entered the Baltimore Police Academy, back in 1999, his objective was simple: observe up-close the methods and culture of an American police department. He never planned on actually becoming a cop. But one day after Moskos arrived, the police commissioner who’d approved his project left office, and the new regime was not so accommodating. “Why don’t you become a cop for real?” he was asked—or rather, dared—by the interim commissioner, who was threatening to throw him out on his Ivy League butt. Six months later, the Princeton/Harvard alum had a badge and a gun, and was patrolling the graveyard shift of Baltimore’s high-crime Eastern District, the same drug-riddled streets that served as a setting for HBO’s The Wire. The result: Cop In the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District, Moskos’s book recounting his year in the ranks of the thin blue line.

VF Daily: Your background is not typical for a police officer. Did you take much flak from your fellow cops?

Peter Moskos: Actually, I found that I got surprisingly little flak from fellow cops about being a Harvard student. I got more shit from Harvard professors about being a cop.

What were your professors worried about?

Originally I wasn’t going to become a cop; traditional academics aren’t supposed to do that. [They’re supposed to observe, not participate.] So I think they felt I was pulling the bait and switch. But some of it I think was just class snobbery: “You’re a Harvard student, you’re not supposed to become a cop. That’s a blue-collar job.”

The midnight shift in Baltimore’s Eastern District. That’s serious. Aside from the criminals you’d be dealing with, did you worry about encountering police corruption?

[The Eastern District] could be perceived as the heart of darkness of police culture, so yeah, I was worried about it, but I didn’t see any corruption. What I did find, however, is that the average cop has more integrity than the average professor.

There's more. The whole Q & A can be found here.

1 comment:

DJK said...

"What I did find, however, is that the average cop has more integrity than the average professor."

Woooooo you're gonna get in troooooouble by your colleagues! ;)

It's nice to hear that that is the case....since there are so many stories of corruption and scandal in police ranks all around the country. One just has to spend a few minutes reading about the "Only Ones" over at WarOnGuns. But of course, we always see the bad over the good....like when you DON'T put away the dishes as opposed to when you do. ;)