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by Peter Moskos

November 30, 2008

"A real treat"

The latest issue of Drug War Chronicle has an excellent review of Cop in the Hood.

"As revelatory as it is sometimes disturbing.... Engaging, even riveting"


Anonymous said...

"Moskos writes about his experience as a beat officer. That's a different animal from the largely self-selected group of police cowboys who end up in drug squads and SWAT teams. I have less sympathy for them..."

That is one of the best points in this review; I try to point this out all the time to law enforcement critics. Most cops aren't "narcs" and most cops don't spend their days kicking in doors and tossing flash bangs.

As a prospective recruit, my view is that policing has become much like any other profession--there are some areas of specialization that you might want to stay clear of. If you were a socially conservative med student, you probably wouldn't perform abortions, and you might stay clear of OB/GYN all together. If you were a Left-wing law student, you probably wouldn't practice corporate law. And if you are a liberal/libertarian police recruit, you'll probably avoid the drug squad like the plague. Policing has come a long way since Boss Tweed, et al.. But if we want the profession to reach its full potential, we've got to end the drug war. Congrats on another great review, Professor.

PCM said...

Well said.

The police department is large. There's room for everybody. I wish more people who think they wouldn't fit in would join. It would make police better. Plus it can be a fun job. And in this economy, it's stable and has good benefits.

I'm not for the war on drugs. And I know I'm not the only officer who wouldn't want to join the drug squad.

I don't agree with them morally. And I don't agree with them in practice (plus, as police work goes, it's dangerous).

All police officers involved with drugs are not dirty (not by any means), but almost all dirty cops have a link to narcotics. The war on drugs is not good for police.

That being said, I had no problem locking up drug dealers because I saw it as a quality of life issue. Drug dealers in the ghetto were not my friends. And they're not the friends of tax-paying working citizens either.

But most drugs aren't dealt out of the ghetto. It's the style of drug dealing--public drug dealing--that causes almost all of the drug-trade/prohibition related problems.

Knocking down doors and locking everybody up is not the answer.

Anonymous said...

"That being said, I had no problem locking up drug dealers because I saw it as a quality of life issue."

That's a very good point. I won't have any major objection to it either. This is a point lost on many people advocating drug policy reform (whom I mostly agree with). Frankly, I don't think they've ever seen a ghetto or witnessed the obnoxious and dangerous behavior that takes place in the public drug market. There are many good reasons to arrest dealers, and they don't all involve possession/sales. These guys are just up to their eyeballs in illicit activities, and most can't even remember if they have warrants or not. I say screw them, but I don't take my eyes of the root of the problem.