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by Peter Moskos

August 5, 2008

A voice of reason

I was starting to think I was the only sane person in a crazy world. Then another email flew in over the transom:
I read the “real” first edition of your book, before the publisher recalled it for typographical errors. I mention this not because it confers upon me any particular credibility, but to highlight the point that I read the book quite some time ago and did not intend to share with you my critique of "Cop In the Hood." That all changed after reading your exchange with the retired Eastern District commander.

I’m a veteran and don’t resent the fact you used the department to write a more informed piece of field research than you would have otherwise been able. I don’t think I’m a minority in this opinion. I’ve spoken with several other officers who have read the book – including some with whom you worked – and they don’t hold your relative inexperience against you either.

As you rightly stress in your responses to the retired commander, what matters is the content and structure of the book: Is it factually accurate? Do you support your conclusions with quality evidence? Do you bring a perspective that is lacking in existing scholarship on the subject? I could quibble with a few points here and there, but overall I think your book meets these criteria.

Those who disagree with the content of your book have an opportunity to write their own. Perhaps the retired commander, with all his experience and infinite wisdom, will write one himself. I’m confident that if he does, you will write a critique that addresses the content of the book rather than the content of his alleged character.

[name omitted on request]
Lieutenant, BPD

Thanks, Lieutenant!

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