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by Peter Moskos

March 19, 2009

Beyond Hope?

Michael East is a veteran police officer in Saginaw, Michigan. He's also an excellent writer. He has a new book coming out. Beyond Hope?

Saginaw, not that you'd know, is a pretty messed up place of rusted industry and abandonment. It's lost about half its population. Even Habitat for Humanity is helping tear it down.

Mike's book is great. I read an early draft. But it won't be on sale for a few weeks.

This isn't even in the book. It's from an email from Mike. But it gives you a good feel:

Last Devil's Night, a few thousand volunteers roamed the city to help prevent Saginaw's residents from burning down these houses. We had numerous cops on overtime. My partner and I were assigned an East Side district and were told to check every abandoned house we could find and make sure the arsonists weren't setting them up to burn (wood piles, gasoline, etc). At one house we opened the door, saw most of the floor missing and said: "Fuck this, let's just do an outside perimeter check." We did and moved on.

Three days later some kids playing in the neighborhood went into the same house and found a woman who had been reported missing the week prior. She had walked inside, fell through the open floor, but her leg caught on a floor beam and it snapped her leg. She hung there, upside down, for God knows how long and died a slow death. She was inside, dead, the night we decided to skip that house. Creepy.

Good stuff.


Anonymous said...

My hometown in Ohio (a small, mostly rural community) went 23 years without a murder. Then GM shifted most of its Saginaw work to the engine block plant near my hometown. About 500 workers from Saginaw moved to my hometown.

The year after, there were 7 murders, not counting a major arson fire of a low-cost housing complex that killed four kids and two adults.

I don't know if they were connected. But I do know that I first saw someone shoot up that year, at a party from which I quickly made my exit, claiming I had tennis practice the next morning.

I'm looking forward to this book.

Anonymous said...

If you know, please advise us of the publication date and where we can purchase Beyond Hope.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of books, Peter, have you read "Bad Cop," by former NYPD officer Paul Bacon? I'm interested in hearing if you think it's worth this BPD officer's time. The NYT published a review of it a couple of days ago. www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/nyregion/20officer.html

PCM said...

I just ordered "Bad Cop" last night. I'll let you know what I think when I get around to it. In the review, I found this line amusing: The Police Department’s chief spokesman had little to say, beyond confirming that Mr. Bacon had worked there. “He joins the N.Y.P.D. and finds it’s too much for him.... That’s a book? Who says publishing’s dead?”

Paul Bacon certainly doesn't seem like an example in favor of my position that there should be more more liberal cops. I was on the force for less time than him, though. But I knew when I quit that I could handle the job.

By the way, I never met another BPD who read the NYT. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Tim - regarding your March 20th comment, I found that to be quite an interesting story. I have shared it with many officers at the SPD and they laughed out loud (the morbid laugh you always hear from cops who see crap like that all the time and love it when everybody else gets to feel the pain too). It's a sad statement about life in Saginaw and value system (or lack of) that permeates a large segement of this city.

Beyond Hope? came out about a month ago. Amazon and Barnes and Noble won't pick it up until around August, I am told. However, you can order a copy on-line through the website of Infinity Publishing. Better yet, go to my new website www.hockeycop.com and there is a link provided to order the book. If you happen to read this please leave a post and/or review on my website.

Michael S. East