Cop in the Hood Essay

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Cop in the Hood

In CIH Moskos describes aspects of his career as a young rookie. Moskos is a big city police officer who has served in areas with high crime and drugs in Baltimore, Maryland. Because of this Moskos describes a model of crime causation and specifically that lazy, ignorant poor people cause crime and perpetuate poverty because they refuse to work. The futility of using rapid response to 911 calls as a measure of the quality of service, crime prevention, officer performance and departmental performance and the highly pragmatic view from the streets that patrol officers manifest and show in their actions and their accounts for why they acted as they did, the contrast between what was taught at the academy and what is actually done on the streets, the arbitrary nature of arrests, especially drug arrests in high crime areas of Baltimore as well as the context-based nature of arrest decisions and so forth. These beliefs serve to characterize a police perspective or the working rules of a policing job.


The objective of this study is to take one of two of these perspectives and to elaborate upon them using quotes from the book and to consider how these perspectives sustain the view of cynicism and about supervision, evaluation and performance indicators and sustains the occupational culture. This study will take one or two of these topics or descriptive points and elaborate upon them.

Examination of the Literature

Community Social Organization

. Patillo writes that social organization is goal oriented and defined as 'the inability of a community structure to realize the common values of its residents and maintain effective social controls; hence social organization refers to the effective efforts of neighborhood actors toward common ends. These ends are similar across populations." (Patillo, 1998) There is reported to be a "consistent, positive relationship between disorder and neighborhood dissatisfaction, citizen withdrawal and crime levels." (Patillo, 1998)

Patillo additionally writes that one of the "persistent challenges to social organization theory has been the existence "…of residentially stable neighborhoods with continuing high rates of crime. The systemic model's explanation for these apparent anomalies is that, while internally integrated, these neighborhoods lack essential ties to public forms of social control such as the police, government bureaucrats, and social service agencies. Low-income neighborhoods also have weak internal economies and lack sufficient connections to mainstream employment." (Patillo, 1998)

Patillo relates that the low bargaining status of the neighborhood in the area of gaining city services makes it is harder for the residents to gain any type of social control resulting in the stable low income areas developing organized "criminal where the "neighborhood milieu [is] characterized by close bonds between different age- levels of offenders, and between criminal and conventional elements.

Alternate Opportunity Structures and Street Gang Imagery in the Media

In such locales, neighborhood stability can foster the formation of an alternative opportunity structure based on organized crime, which benefits both criminal and law-abiding residents." (Patillo, 1998) Venkatesh (1997) states

"The urban poor ghetto, the "socially isolated" inner city, and the "underclass" neighborhood have all become powerful phrases in the popular discourse on race and urbanism. They are grounded firmly in American consciousness, and they carry strong, understandings of citizenship, individual responsibility, normative social behavior, and so on. One of the strongest images produced by these catchphrases is that of the street gang lurking about in dimly lit streets, preying upon the local residential population, and destroying community social fabric." (Venkatesh, 1997)

Also stated by Venkatesh is the fact that the street gang has been pictured as being such that is primarily a "…destructive community actor" at least in popular imagery and emotion rather than being based on "foundation of research and evidence." (1997) Venkatesh relates that the study he reports has a focus on the "gang-community relation" and as such "addresses both an empirical and theoretical gap in the research on street gangs." (1997) Venkatesh writes:

"With some exceptions (Jankowski 1991; Horowitz 1987; Padilla 1992; Moore 1991), scholars generally do not examine the street gang's engagement with the local neighborhood and other surrounding spaces.2 This includes the ways in which the street gang interacts with other social groups and institutions, how residents cope with some of the associated phenomena (e.g., patterns of symbolic expression, illicit economic activity, criminality), and, finally the patterns of change and continuity of gang and community over time.3 Similarly, some scholars have criticized the conventional theoretical frameworks applied to the study of street gangs because they fail to incorporate a social contextual dimension (Bursik and Grasmik 1993; Spergel 1995; Jankowski 1991." (Venkatesh, 1997)

Following the economic expansion of the street gangs "many of the long-standing relations between gangs, residents and local institutions were disrupted and a historically novel social organization emerged" according to Venkatesh (1997).

The housing development was characterized by households that both worked and those that were unemployed and it is reported that presently "welfare monies comprise the main source of reported legitimate income for Blackstone's approximately 8,000 residents…" (Venkatesh, 1997) According to Venkatesh only a mere 4% of households have income that is gained from legal employment. The alternate economic opportunity structure is reported to have "become entrenched in Blackstone and the surrounding ghettos." (Venkatesh,1997)

This alternate economic opportunity structure is reported to have become deeply planted in Blackstone and other ghettos in the surrounding areas and to be in the areas of "sporadic part-time work, the distribution of illicit goods and services, informal labor including car repair, gypsy cab service, domestic work, and the sale of homemade goods such as crafts, clothing, and food items. As welfare monies have become insufficient to meet even the basic needs of the urban poor." (Venkatesh, 1997)

Street Gangs Are Not the Real Problem According to Residents

Residents report that in the beginning or in the 1960s

"….street gang activity did not cause the greatest tensions. Instead, the most sustained disputes were anchored in issues related to the built environment. For example, in the 1960s, tenants protested the failure of housing authority management to maintain safe and working elevators, and in the 1970s, they demonstrated against the reluctance on the part of city police to patrol hallways, stair- wells, and other semiprivate areas within buildings. Only in the 1980s, when the local street gangs experienced a social and economic resurgence, did the disputes expand to include street gang activity, but, in these matters as well, physical space was central as tenants fought the attempts of law enforcement agents to enter apartments without procuring search warrants." (Venkatesh, 1997)

Black Middle Class Similar to White Lower Class

The fact is that as time has moved forward it has become common for tenants groups and gangs to be in opposition as to who will be representative of the community. The Black middle black is reported to be similar to the white middle class. The middle class family of Groveland works hard to keep their neighborhood clean and has two grammar schools, a Catholic grammar school and a public high school as well as 11 churches.

Erogenous factors associated with living in a black neighborhood include "mass media cultural images, socio-economic conditions, urban political economy, urban racial geography, residential stability which are combined with dense social networks, positive normative standards among criminal leadership, informal and formal social control and overlapping of legal and illegal networks." (Venkatesh, 1997)


Law enforcement working in areas of the country such as in neighborhoods in Chicago characterized by a high level of crime and low income residents most certainly have a view that results in cynicism as they arrest and book individuals for illicit drug activity that they know are stabilizing forces in the community and who have even assisted them on many occasions in keep the peace during disturbances in those neighborhoods

The rigid…[continue]

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