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by Peter Moskos

August 12, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

Still haven't bought my book? It ain't like my blog pays the rent. Actually my book doesn't either, but I still want it to sell.

The paperback edition of Cop in the Hood is out and in stock!

Better yet, ask your local bookstore (and have them stock it).

At only $11.43 (from Amazon.com), even the cheapest of bastards can afford to buy one without resorting to late-shift shenanigans.

If you're a professor, think of how much your students will like you for assigning such a cheap book. Plus, they will respect you for assigning something good to read. Indeed, according to the latest polls, 87% of college students (a stat I just made up) love Cop in the Hood.

If you already bought the hardcover of Cop in the Hood, thanks! But you don't have the extra chapter on foot patrol. Still, even I, in good faith, can't tell you to buy my book twice. The American Interest article is a pretty good version of the new chapter.

A Kindle version is for sale, too.

And of course there's always free. Just go to your local library. That doesn't help me so much, but you can't beat free.

And you can always show your appreciation by posting positive reviews on Amazon. Those five-star reviews are always welcomed.


10-8 said...

I read your book about 6 mos ago. I've recommended it to anyone interested in a LEO career. It's a healthy splash of reality in the face. I don't agree with some of your ideas about the war on drugs but I think it's a great look at the realities a rookie officer faces.

tim said...

I'll buy the new paperback with my first paycheck from my new job (a real faculty position in Jacksonville!) and I'm looking forward to it.

Jaguar said...

Peter, if you haven't already read it, you might find the following book of interest: Boot: An LAPD Officer's Rookie Year in South Central Los Angeles by William C. Dunn, William Morrow and Co., 1996, ISBN 0688147135. Dunn wrote the book after his first year in; he's still LAPD and now a detective.

After discovering your blog recently, I read Cop in the Hood this past weekend, which immediately brought to mind Dunn's book. Although, unlike you, he had considerable experience dealing with gangs in his first year, the two books understandably have some intriguing parallels, including his observations about how law-abiding citizens suffer in "the hood," something most any urban officer will see. If you haven't read Dunn, I highly recommend checking it out. For your readers here who enjoyed CITH, be sure to check out Dunn's book, too.

I agree with 10-8 that CITH is an excellent resource for anyone considering a career in law enforcement. Experiences will vary from city to city, but there's enough commonality in the book to give a clearer perspective than what department recruiters seem willing to share.

I did find one sentence particularly curious, however, in CITH:

Other drugs aren't like alcohol: drug users aren't responsible for violence -- high people just want to enjoy their high. (The footnote for that little bon mot is none other than a song but nothing else.)

Ask any officer or EMT who has dealt with a PCP-crazed suspect or a raging tweaker and you certainly will hear a much different perspective on violence perpetrated by drug users. Answer a DV call in a suburban or rural area these days and you'll see plenty of women and children (and a few men) who have suffered violence inflicted by a crystal meth abuser. I read an article recently -- I think it was in the Journal of Criminal Justice -- specifically studying the link between meth and violence in offenders. More than one in three committed violent acts while under the influence of meth, and a majority of those involved DV. As for PCP, my experience is that the violence link is even stronger. In the past year alone, I have personally witnessed a PCP-crazed suspect biting a chunk out of another officer so hard he broke his tooth and an offender's wife who nearly bled to death after her PCP-crazed husband repeatedly bashed her head against a shattered sliding glass door.

Sure, potheads are giggly and calm, but the same can't be said for all drug abusers.

Anonymous said...

The same can be said for those people who drink alcohol. They can be violent and raging maniacs. The same can be said for those people who are addicted to nicotene and can't get their fix. It's time to stop saying a particular drug makes someone violent. I think the natural disposition of a person has something to do with that. I agree with you Peter on the war on drugs. It is a failure and from an economic standpoint it is terrible. Milton Friedman did a great job at showing how the US govt. keeps the drug cartels in business, prices high, and quality of drugs very poor.

PCM said...

I am east-coast and urban biased. As a cop, I never saw meth. Ever. So I don't say much about it (though I think it's a horrible drug).

I didn't see much PCP either.

But man, I saw a lot of drunk people!

My point as always isn't if drugs are good or bad, it's what do we do about them to control them so they cause the least harm.

Jaguar said...

The same can be said for those people who are addicted to nicotene and can't get their fix.

Tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis are much different than PCP and crystal meth. Tobacco consumption doesn't turn people into raging sociopaths. Yes, some people commit dangerous or violent acts while under the influence of alcohol or cannabis. By and large, however, most consumption is with moderation. There are stiff penalties for those who consume immoderately. Harsher DUI prosecution is a good example of that. There are potentially steep civil penalties as well.

PCP and crystal meth, by their very nature, do not lend themselves to moderate use. A third of alcohol and cannabis users are not committing violent acts under the influence of their drug of choice, but a third (or more) of PCP and crystal meth are.

It's time to stop saying a particular drug makes someone violent.

That's a myopic Palinesque campaign slogan, not evidence. If clinical evidence shows people are much more likely to commit violent acts while under the influence of a particular drug, that's a cold hard fact that must be refuted with facts, not grandiose statements without substance.

Jaguar said...

it's what do we do about them to control them so they cause the least harm

It all depends on how you quantify least harm. Are you only measuring the impact on the abuser him or herself? As well, this raises the question of what would you do with drugs like PCP and meth? You can't just plead that you don't have much experience with them; if you're advocating a tectonic policy change that will include drugs like PCP or meth, you need a viable alternative.

I don't believe you can simply measure least harm in terms of what happens to the abuser alone. PCP and meth use leads to considerable harm beyond just the violence perpetrated during their misuse. A tweaker parent is likely also to neglect his or her children severely even if no physical violence is involved. He or she is likely to be marginally employed, at best, and relying on petty crime to sustain his or her drug misuse. By harshly penalizing meth or PCP abusers, their suppliers, and the drug producers, a strong disincentive to use the drug is created and considerable harm is prevented.

Meth production itself is also extremely dangerous, thereby producing significant harm. Meth labs typically are located in working class suburbs and exurban areas. The danger is both immediate and lingering: meth labs explode, causing fires and killing innocent people, and houses in which meth has been produced can be toxic to the residents for many years. The New York Times ran an article last month about this. The measurable harm to those young families living in former meth houses is significant. (Incidentally, the harm to law enforcement officers is measurable, too, as the article reveals -- some 70 percent have health problems as a result of meth exposure.)

Not incarcerating the meth or PCP user prevents a certain degree of harm, but I would argue the harm to others is considerably greater if he or she is not imprisoned and removed from society for a significant period of time.

PCM said...


Thanks for the book recommendation. I had not heard of that.

On the war on drugs, if we regulated meth production, people would stop blowing up their homes and leaving toxic residue.

But more importantly, consider this. The reason we have meth is because of the war on drugs. Now I can't prove that. But I believe it. There's no meth in Amsterdam. Why? Because people can get high on weed and won't get thrown in prison for cocaine.

Meth abuse started, in part, simple cause the ingredients were legal.

Also consider this: law enforcement hasn't gotten rid of meth. Yet for some reason meth is still basically non-existent in large cities, in black neighborhoods, and on the east coast. Likewise, crack is still not really found in rich neighborhoods. There are cultural reasons chose to take one drug and not another.

Not to sound like too much of a liberal sociologist, but we could build on the cultural explanations to reduce drug use (like we did with tobacco). But first we need to legalize it to get it under our control.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Narc said...

Holy Jesus on rollerskates you cannot be serious that you want to make meth LEGAL? What have you been smokin man? You make meth legal then what about the whole Schedule I to III drugs? How can you still require prescriptions when anybody gets meth where ever they want? Or would you make Schedule I to III available to anyone who wants it? That would be absolute crazy anarchy. Google the name Roland Jarvis if you want to see what meth does to people. Meth causes major brain damage, you need to witness with your own eyes what this stuff does man, it is much worse than crack. Penalties have to be MUCH TOUGHER with mandatory minimum sentence for meth possession. Break the cycle.

Baloney law enforcement isn't getting rid of meth. We're WINNING the war against meth man, you need to get your facts straight. Our lab raids are WAY down because traffic is way down, half what it was 5 years ago. Look at this:


GOOD LUCK trying to get politicians to pass laws making meth legal, that should be a real huge hit with the voters. They're poopin their pants now over Obamacare as it is & you think they're gonna legalize meth? Plus you're wrong that meth isn't in large cities, it's big in St. Louis, LA, Phoenix, Vegas, the ONLY reason you're not seeing more of it in NYC is because the spread from west to east is being stopped. If it wasn't for the law cracking down on meth it would be all around you now in NYC.

PCM said...

Luckily for you, I don't have the actual power to implement any of my beliefs related to the absolute failure of the war on drugs.

Let me ask you something. If (think hypothetically)... *if* legal drug regulation resulted in less drug use, would you support legalization? Or do you think there's something noble about fighting the good fight, regardless of results. Since drugs are bad.

I know meth is bad. That's why I want to control it. Controlling drugs, despite all your hard work, is something we've never been able to with prohibition.

We wouldn't have meth (nor strong strains of marijuana) if it weren't for the war on drugs.

Meth, like crack but more so, is an ugly drug. Meth addicts are hardly sexy roll models.

Meth popularity is going down because a lot of drug use comes and goes like any fad. People do and don't drugs for a lot of different reason. The law is rarely one of them.

Just like crack use declined when the crack generation came of age, it's no surprise that meth use has (hopefully) peaked.

And we're still got the biggest meth problem is the world. If that's success, I'd hate to see failure.

And let me get this right, you think there's no (let's say little) meth in NYC because all the meth dealers are trying and failing to transport the drug? Are *you* on crack?

Please explain why law enforcement is so effective at sealing the borders of New York City to keep Meth out when we can't seal boarders to weed, cocaine, heroin, guns, or illegal immigrants.

There is meth in NYC. The question is why don't more people want to take it. Meth isn't big in northeast cities because it's seen (at least outside of some gay nightclubs) as a dumb redneck drug that makes you lose your teeth.
It's the same kind of reason that explains why rich white people don't generally smoke crack (but got no problem snorting power): low class.

Anonymous said...

Jaguar, are you winning the war on drugs? For starters, the way a drug affects each person is going to be different. The war on drugs has created meth. So once again we are back to square one, government solutions equals more problems. Now, you say that there are steep DUI penalties and steep penalties? Have you seen what goes on in an inner city criminal justice system? Apparently not! The penalties are a laughing matter! What is most palinesque is your ardent support for a war that doesn't work! Meth like any other drug has a great potential to bring out the ugliness in people. This war on drugs comes down to one question, do you own your body or does the government own your body? Or better said, are you responsible for your actions or is the government responsible for your actions? I think sending drug addicts to prison is about the worst mistake that can be made. Here's a hard fact, being as how most drug offenders are repeat offenders, what does that say about the efficiency and purpose of the criminal justice system?

Your Friendly Neighborhood Narc said...

I never said NYC borders were sealed. I never said there as no meth in NYC. Read what I wrote. There is some meth in NYC but nothing like midwest or west. Meth use spreads thru party & club use. You cut back the supply, you slow the spread.

Drugs ARE bad. I think stopping young people from destroying themselves w/ drugs IS noble and good, yes sir. Nothing is sadder than a 13 yr old girl whoring herself out to pay for her tweak then getting pregnant in the process. What kind of future is there for her baby? Giving her easy legal access to meth condemns both her and her kids. Sure I can't stop that from happening to every girl or boy but I can stop some, get them off the street behind lock & key so they can get straightened out. Get kids like that in a boot camp where they learn the value of discipline & hard work. They need guidance because they get nothing at home, chances are their parent is already a tweaker. We have youth offender boot camps here & the recid rate is under 10%. I count my successes in the lives I save. I have young people contacting me a couple years after they got sent down, they write to thank me for arresting them so they could get their lives turned around. They say things like "it wasn't for you I'd be dead now".

Legalizing drugs will not reduce use, that's a fairy tale. Look at a country like Saudi Arabia. They have very little drug abuse because they have VERY harsh penalties. I'm not saying we have to do what they do, cut off people's heads for selling drugs but I'm all in favor of much harsher penalties for selling drugs like meth, like 15 yrs min hard labor min or 15 years in solitary. Make them work hard to pay for their incarceration. Make it miserable so they've got no incentive to go back.

The BIGGEST safety we have against you pro-legalization people is that we know politicans will never legalize something like meth. You can what-if yourselves til you're blue in the face, it ain't gonna happen.

As far as the war on drugs, like Patton said: "a war is not lost until the final battle". We got many more battles to fight. Legalizing drugs = surrender.

Dix said...

Professor you're approaching this like a sociologiist and looking at the big picture. Most officers probably see this much different--- approaching this like ground soldiers and looking at the local picture. Think back to when you were an officer. I bet you devoted most of your gray matter thinking about your post and squad. You did'nt worry about problems in Detroit or Houston,

We had a regime change in local government here and a new chief around four years ago. People were sick of the crime spill-over from larger cities near to us. The mandate came from high---- zero tolerence for harder drugs like meth, heroin, coke, PCP and a few others. More officers were put on uniformed patrol and also narcotics detail. We cracked down hard--- especialy in posts next to a neighboring large city. The word soon got on the street that we were the wrong place to be caught carrying. Sales dropped close to nothing, possession quite a bit also. We saw a big drop in other crimes too.

My squad saw around a 65 percent drop in drug possessions in two years. Sales are now almost nil but we still get some possessions on other arrests. Those numbers have stayed down. Real estatte prices have actualy gone up in a state that's in the toilet. That's what I worry about---- my squad and my city. You say the war on drugs is lost. Maybe other places but not here. I'm an officer in one squad in one city in one state. Those are the only numbers that realy matter to me. I also live in the same city. I'm a happy camper because the sellers packed up and went elsewehre. Talk about legalization all you want---- just don't bring it here.

Sure there are ways to cut down on demand for drugs like meth. Change work condtions for people so they can make a decent wage and don't turn to meth. I can't change that. I can't arrest a factory owner for paying a lousy wage or shipping jobs to China. That's somebody else's problem to fix. Until they do my squad will continue to hunt down dealers. That's the only tool I have to get meth and dangerous drugs out of here.

PCM said...

FN Nark,

"the ONLY reason you're not seeing more of it in NYC is because the spread from west to east is being stopped. If it wasn't for the law cracking down on meth it would be all around you now in NYC."

How am I supposed to read that?

PCM said...


I agree with you. I helped shut down some drug corners too. And if I lived near one, I would want police to crack down hard.

But I am thinking of the big picture. Drugs were here then. They're here now. We can push things around and win the battles, but we're not winning the war.

But listen, unless there is change in policy and law, I'm not advocated police stop enforcing drug laws. As long as there is prohibition, we can't just turn our street over to thugs.

10-8 said...

>most drug offenders are repeat
>offenders, what does that say about
>the efficiency and purpose of the >criminal justice system?

That's true for most offenses unrelated to drugs. More than 2/3rds of released prisoners are arrested again within three years.

Here's the kicker that makes a monkey of your argument: percent of repeat offenses involving drugs are lower than robbery, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, possessing stolen property, and illegal weapons charges.


Jaguar said...

people would stop blowing up their homes and leaving toxic residue

Unlikely. Street meth is much more potent than legal meth. It's also much less expensive. An expensive, weak product will not compete with a cheap, powerful one.

Meth is such a destructive drug that legal prescriptions are almost non-existent because few doctors will prescribe it.

Have you seen what goes on in an inner city criminal justice system?

Far too much of it, thank you. I spent fourteen years seeing it first hand as a police officer in one of the most violent precincts in this country. I repeatedly witnessed an ineffective, lazy judiciary more interested in self-dealing and re-election than in administering justice.

Anonymous said...

10-8 OK, so larceny, burglary, robbery, and stolen property aren't related to drugs in anyway? How about junkies and crackheads stealing stuff to buy drugs. Do you not see the correlation? It happens in others besides junkies. Of course there are going to be more of those repeat offenders, they're some of the people who are trying to get money to buy drugs! This is not a black and white picture here. Few things rarely are. I'm sure most of those repeat offenders are in some way linked to drugs.
Jaguar- If you have seen first hand the failings of the judiciary, then why the ardent support for the drug war? These same people maintaining the status quo are the ones who are perpetuating this senseless war! What does that tell you? If they can't run a court system, how do you expect them to run a national war on a product that people want?!? In no way am I saying that drugs are OK, they are not. But, it is not the governments job to tell people that they can't use them when it is okay to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. I won't even get into prescription drugs! It is not the governments job to regulate what people put into their body.

10-8 said...

>I'm sure most of those
>repeat offenders are
>in some way linked to drugs.

If you read the report in the link I provided you'd see that you're wrong. The stats were not for multiple offenses involving split charges.

That aside, if you legalize drugs where do you think the druggies are going to get the money to buy the stuff? From Santa?

PCM said...

If we legalized drugs, druggies are going to get the money to buy the stuff the same way they do now.

What can you do?

But that doesn't make the problem worse.

And *if* legalization lowered drug use, as I think it would, you would have fewer crime. Even if drug use didn't go down, you would have less violence.

Anonymous said...

10-8, your absolutely right. Santa is actually behind the whole drug trade as it is. He works with the keebler elves to distribute it.
Druggies get their money from the same crimes you say aren't associated with drugs, i.e. illegal guns(people selling illegal guns for drugs), burglary, larceny, etc. The reason they are doing it in the first place is because they want the money. Just because when they get arrested there are no drugs on them, doesn't mean it's not related to drugs. 10-8, who is in charge of your body and your actions? The government or yourself? Learn to respect the individual and the individuals right to choose what they want to put in their bodies.