Students learn about crime rates, drugs

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

An award-winning author and former police officer gathered with 100 students and faculty members to talk about the problems he saw on the force, why he wrote his book, “Cop in the Hood,” and what steps America needs to take to reduce the crime rate.

Peter Moskos’ popular book accounts his experiences as a Baltimore, Md. police officer.  He visited the university to discuss his work with students on March 4 in Lowrimore Auditorium.

Moskos said he wrote“Cop in the Hood”because he wanted to give the world a better sense of what policing entails.

“I want to improve policing and for outsiders to understand policing better,” Moskos said.  “Also, I wanted my book to give police officers a voice.”

Although the names have been changed in order to protect the identities of the people involved, they are first-person accounts of what Moskos witnessed and was a part of.

Moskos said “there are too many people getting shot and killed;” his discussion centered on the need to reduce the murder rate in America, particularlyin larger cities.

Moskossaid he believes the only way to reduce murder rates, drug arrests and reduce crime rates is through the legalization and regulation of all forms of drugs, from marijuana to heroin and cocaine.

He said the legalization of drugs would not have to be “perfect;” it would need only to be better than what the nation has now to be a success.

“There are 30,000 to 40,000 overdoses a year,”he said.  “These aren’t suicides; they are preventable deaths. We reduce use through education and reduce violence through regulation.”

Moskos explained that the regulation and legalization that he spoke of would be done in a similar format to prescription drugs:

It is completely legal to obtain a prescription from a physician for heavy duty pain killers, but they are also regulated so that only so much can be received at one time.

“Prescription drugs are heroin imitators,” he said.“If we legalize all drugs, then the drug dealers will have to find a new form of employment.  Prescriptions are legal, and we don’t see many cases of people getting shot on a street corner over some pain pills.”

Moskos also discussed the debate concerning police corruption.

“I have seen good policing and lazy policing, but never any corruption,” he said.

Moskos talked with students about what he defines as a need for the format and structure of police academies to change.

He said the two-year program is too long and does not provide enough tangible experience.

Moskos also said he feels that the teaching of ethics in police academies needs to be completely redone.  According to Moskos, other than being mentioned in a few classes, there is no proper situational ethics training.

Moskos ended his discussion by telling students that through regulation, there would not be as many people incarcerated and prisons would not be as full.

“There will always be a need for police officers, but hopefully there won’t be a need for as many prisons,”he said. “We could release 80 percent of prisoners because of drug charges.”