Cop in the Hood

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

While in grad school, sociologist Peter Moskos also became a police officer in a troubled neighborhood in Baltimore. He describes his life as an academic-turned-cop in his new book, Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District.


Peter Moskos

Comments [10]

Peter Moskos from NYC

When it comes to historically dirty police departments, don't forget New Orleans.

That being said, remember that police culture can change quickly. A patrol generation is basically 5 -10 years. So while the NYPD has the history, it's crazy to think of the Serpico era and hold that against the department today.

Also, no matter the scandal, notice there's always a drug-squad link (sometimes just vice, but same idea).

Jul. 22 2008 06:45 PM
Willie Mays from Long Beach, CA

BPD is not a department with a deep history of corruption, comparatively (see David Simon's "Homicide") - NYPD, Chicago PD, and LAPD, on the other hand, are as dirty as you get.

Jul. 22 2008 04:17 PM
Peter Moskos from NYC

And oh yeah, about 1970s police TV shows... I was born in 1971. So arguably both shows were a little before my time. But I remember Starsky & Hutch. Or maybe it was reruns of Starsky & Hutch. I remember the Rockford Files even better. And that's from 1974. I didn't watch Barney Miller. What can I say?

Jul. 22 2008 02:53 PM
Peter Moskos from NYC

Thanks for listening.

Seth. That was a mental slip. I was thinking "off the charts" and "crazy" (but not in a good way) at the same time, and that's what came out.

David, I'm am Charles's son. I'm glad you liked him as a professor. You may not know, but he passed away about 2 months ago. He is missed, but he had a very good life.

Gail, sorry to offend you with the word ghetto (and who knows what else), but "Ghetto" is term police use. And "ghetto" is a term that the people I policed used. Who am I tell them there is no such thing? I understand the term "ghetto" can be offensive, but I wouldn't be honest to my subject if I didn't use the word. I actually discuss this in greater detail my book.

I also think you missed the point of my book and by extension, the show. My book, Cop in the Hood, is not about "the community." It's a book about police. Police who work in a ghetto.

I'm not an expert on urban sociology. I study police.

And for what it's worth, I don't like the term "inner-city community." Not only is it overly euphemistic, it as a descriptive term it manages to be both vague and inaccurate.

Jul. 22 2008 02:38 PM
Davis from Brooklyn

If only police officers like Peter were the rule and not the exception we would be much better off. Things would be "off the chain."

Jul. 22 2008 12:34 PM
hjs from 11211

stats are being 'fudged' by the NYPD
overtime IS big money NYPD, also

Jul. 22 2008 12:32 PM
Gail from Brooklyn

So the Harvard grad, with his new book from Princeton UP, is here to tell us that Baltimore is "hard core ghetto" and the crime rate is "off the hook." Oh my. I don't have words to explain how ridiculous and offensive this is.

I believe passionately in closer connections between universities and the larger society, but this interview is just an example of how tragically wrong-headed these efforts can end up.

The lack of real insight into the issues facing inner-city communities is amazing. Why are we referring to /citing "The Wire" instead of the work of more talented sociologists, etc. Is this the best we can do on WNYC?

Listening to this conversation just after Brian's discussion of narcissism is particularly useful.

Jul. 22 2008 12:29 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

how is it that this guest claims familiarity with starsky & hutch, but not barney miller?? both series started in '75...

Jul. 22 2008 12:28 PM
David Russi from Glen Rock, NJ

Is your guest the son of Northwestern University Sociology Professor Charles Moskos? I hope that he is as excellent an instructor as his favorite professor in my entire 4 years.

Jul. 22 2008 12:19 PM
seth from NYC

I think that Murder rate is "off the charts," not "off the hook."
BIG difference.
Off the "hook" means, cool in broad terms. I am sure it was just a mental typo.

Jul. 22 2008 12:16 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.