Friday, October 3, 2008

Two books on the Eastern District

Buz has gotten hold of two books, both written by persons who spent some time in the famous (infamous?) Eastern District in Baltimore City. Your consultant is slowly making his way throught the two book: one chapter or subchapter in one, juxtaposed with the chapter in the other book.  One is by Petter Moskos, who spent a year there while doing research for his Ph.D.  The book essentially becomes his dissertation, and gets bogge down by the constant citations, and literature review, though he is trying to bring the literture to bear on his year as "Cop in the Hood".  Unfortunately, for us and for Peter one year+ being on the midnight shift in the Eastern is not necessarily representative of police work or even police work in Baltimore. I would argue that working nothing but the midnight shift is not representative.
Of course, Mr. Moskos never saw any brutality or corruption during his 14-month stay.

The other is by Danny Shanahan, a cop who writes about going over the edge and being eventually shot by other police and going to prison. His writing is awful, though some of his vignettes are interesting; the book is not well edited; apparently self-published. It's pretty clear that the picture Daniel Shanahan paints of the Eastern is one of burned out police, bad attitude, some sense of police duty and glory, and almost casual mention of police officers in his squad drinking and sleeping on duty. Even a casual reader would come to learn that a suburban boy brou;ght up in an all-white neighborhood, suddenly thrust into what is almost a third-world country and trying to police it, soon becomes way in over his head. And an amateur psychologist would dedeuce from his writing that eithere he is fooling us, or early on began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Book review to Continue...................... 

6 comments:

vees said...

I just finished Moskos' book and I thought it was very well done until he gets to the 7th chapter and starts rambling on

buzoncrime said...

Thanks, vees! Still working my way there.

Anonymous said...

Buz, for the uninformed, what exactly did Mr. Shanahan do?

buzoncrime said...

Dear Anonymous--
Mr. Shanahan was tried twice when Kurt Schmoke was the State's Attorney for the controversial killing of a black man. He was acquitted after the second trial. During the time awaiting trial he worked at a body shop, because he was suspended without pay; there he met two guys who were involved with bank robberies.
However, after the trials, he was working in Police Communications with his police powers suspended, as a dispatcher.
Eventually, he received $500 from one robbery, and then while actually working as a dispatcher, he directed police units away from the area where another robbery occurred, broadcast a wrong description of the getaway car, and also broadcast a wrong direction of escape. He later plead guilty to one or more federal charges and served a couple of years in a federal penitentiary. I suppose the book is his Mea Culpa.

Vees---I'm now in Chapter 7; he's droning on academically, building his argument for some form of drug legalization, based on our experience with prohibition.

PCM said...

We debated whether to have that 7th chapter (on prohibition) in the book or cut it. Obviously, we decided to keep it.

For a book, yeah, it is a little change in subject.

Personally, I think Prohibition is interesting and there are lessons to be learned from history. And others have said (to my surprise) that it was their favorite chapter. You really can't please them all.

And don't forget, the book *is* an academic book! That doesn't mean (or rather shouldn't mean) it's long and boring and impossible to read. So if I can get to the last chapter before being accused of droning on like an academic... well, hell, I think I've done a pretty good job.

Either way, I'm glad you liked the book overall.

buzoncrime said...

Peter---I'm sorry; I didn't mean to be disrespectful. I certainly am pleased anyone finishes their doctorate. And the legalization thing has gained a bit of traction lately. Frankly, I think the vast majority of young people think locking people up for smoking the wacky weed is not right. However, so far there has been no change in public policy.

As for other drugs, well..............